Why the Green Brigade et al's silent protest is correct response to Celtic problem

By Euan Davidson

October 29, 2021

There is no conceivable way that Celtic could’ve thought about hiring Bernard Higgins without the Green Brigade and other supporters’ groups reacting.

Once Twitter got the faintest whiff that the Assistant Chief Constable of Police Scotland was being considered for a security role at the club, alarm bells rang.

This, after all, is the same Bernard Higgins who pushed for fans being filmed at games [Herald]. For dawn raids, seemingly random arrests and the foul treatment of Celtic supporters.

The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act was farcical. Attempting to tackle the problem of sectarianism is a worthy cause. But instead of being dealt with holistically and through communication, it was a law that sheriffs didn’t understand how to enforce. One even described it as “mince” [Herald].

During the height of OBFA-mania, Police reportedly used tactics including having informants in crowds and extensive monitoring of supporters [North Curve]. It spectacularly failed. Moreover, it’d be impossible to suggest sectarianism is any less of a problem now than in the years these tactics were used.

So, for Celtic to think about employing the architect of this draconian approach to policing? It’s a serious, serious problem. The methods being used to protest might meet a fair deal of cynicism, but it sounds bang on to me.

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30 minutes of silence at Celtic Park sends a very clear message

As we shared with you earlier today, the Green Brigade, Bhoys Celtic, North Curve, Celtic Trust and Celtic Shared are planning an in-stadium protest.

The protest will consist of silence for the first half hour of the game. It’s supposed to serve as a reminder of what Higgins tried to do to the fans. Now, there will be two main arguments here:

Firstly, why should the players suffer? Secondly, why not protest outside Celtic Park, before or after the game?

Valid arguments, but it’s likely that the rest of the stadium will still make noise. It’s just that, without the leadership of specific fan sections within Celtic Park, it won’t have quite the same volume. As for the second point, fair enough, but there’s real value in carrying the protest out this way.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

It sends a very clear message to the board. That’s the most important thing of all here. That the Celtic hierarchy would consider employing someone with the toxic disregard Higgins has shown to supporters is risible. Therefore, if they’re not going to listen, silence speaks volumes.

Additionally, it’s not as if certain sections of the crowd aren’t supporting the team. Of course they are, and will do so in fine voice before, for 70 minutes of, and after the match.

This is innovative, and it couldn’t be a clearer indication of how so many fans feel about this. One of the architects of unfair, badly planned and over-the-top policing of Celtic supporters cannot be allowed to operate as an employee of the club.

This is a worthy and meaningful protest.

Read more: Celtic star David Turnbull gives encouraging quote on life under Ange