Since the Linfield Champions League match last Wednesday we’ve had a statement from the club and a response from the Green Brigade.
The initial statement from the club stated there would be a two match ban, this week’s game against Rosenberg in the Champions League and Hearts in our first League game on August 5th, on the 900 fans who occupy the ‘Green Brigade’ section of the ground.
Before I go into the rest of the statement, I never knew that area was called the ‘Green Brigade’ area, I always thought the club referred to it as the North Curve. Ah, well, you live and learn.
The reasoning behind the club’s seemingly heavy handed punishment was due to safety concerns regarding the Pyrotechnics at the last Hearts game and blocking of stairways and illicit banners last Wednesday.
The Pyro issue was always going to have to be addressed.
Despite what some say on social media, they smoke, not to mention the flames, are dangerous. There are many people with breathing problems who can be affected, and to them this is no laughing matter. Celtic DO have a responsibility to all supporters, and that includes making the stadium a safe place to watch our team.
Without accepting these responsibilities, we simply won’t get a licence to operate. What then?
Banning the whole section was a bit too much, in my opinion, as I’m sure they have an idea who’s involved in the Green Brigade as they allow the Bhoys access to the stadium to do Tifo’s etc. And let’s be honest, it’s the Green Brigade they’re looking to ban.
Moving on the response from the Green Brigade, my reading of it was fairly simple. They accept no responsibility, blame the club and are basically saying, we are what we are, we’re Ultras, take it or leave it.
It’s become a stand off.
Both parties have a responsibility. No one is about the law here. By saying take it or leave it, the Green Brigade are not only putting two fingers up to the board, they’re putting two fingers up to the rest of the support, who just might not agree with their actions.
I hope there’s a reconsideration, however, if there’s not, there’s only going to be one winner..
I’ve said on here before, the SFA and UEFA are two cheeks of the same arse, only difference is, the SFA NEED Celtic, whereas UEFA couldn’t give a shit about us.
There is also a thing called ‘strict liability’ where the clubs are held responsible for the fans behaviour. We don’t have that in Scotland, but UEFA impose it, almost at will.
Now before I go on, UEFA to me are hypocrites. They insist in no political messages or display, but had a Madiba Day Banner at every Champions League game when Nelson Mandela died. If that’s not political, then I don’t know what is!
They also bottled out of switching the ties, in my opinion, That in itself would have kept a lid of sorts on the potential powder keg. Common sense rarely prevails when it comes to governing bodies, at home or abroad.
One thing we can’t escape though, is the Champions League, where Celtic and all the best players want to play is, their ba’ and like the big bully with the ba’, they make the rules. And if we want ‘in on the game‘ we have to abide by the rules whether we like it or not.
Ultimately, when Brendan Rodgers goes to sign a player to make Celtic better, something we ALL want, then offering him the chance to play Champions League football with the unique atmosphere Celtic Park offers, just might sway the deal.
Having sections of the ground closed because we pissed UEFA, (remember, it’s their ba’), off, won’t help his cause.
I’m not going to turn this into a Celtic good, Green Brigade bad article.
Celtic have to keep the authorities who give us licenses to operate happy, therefore we have to play by the rules. That means imposing on all the supporters who enter the stadium guidelines of what required. It’s simple really.
For me, Pyro at the Hearts game made up the club’s mind something has to be done. Closing the ‘Green Brigade’ section for two games is heavy handed. Dialogue could have brought about a better solution. However, that may have happened to no avail, I’m not party to any knowledge of that.
What we do know, is Celtic have had another fine, €4,500 and Leigh Griffiths has had a one match ban imposed for tying a scarf to the goalposts after the first leg. Classed as provoking the same spectators that lobbed bottles and coins at him.
The fine was for having five players booked. That I would class as being obscene, to be honest, the referee should have foregone his match fee, considering the pigs ear he made of the game.
Linfield on the other hand have had the area where the missiles were thrown closed for one match and a fine of €10,000 imposed for the above missile throwing, and the attempted pitch invasion at the end of the match.
There will be more sanctions against Celtic following the banner displays on Wednesday. Let’s hope we don’t see our ground subject to the same from UEFA.
To finish off, I hate seeing any of the Celtic support argue among ourselves. Opinions will always differ, that’s healthy, and no one supporter is any better than another. But we can’t keep giving ammo to the people who take great pleasure in putting us down.
We’re shooting ourselves in the foot. Let’s get back to what we do best, supporting Celtic, first and last. It’s all about Celtic.
On the park the result was never in any doubt. Over the two legs, a 6-0 aggregate score did little to justify Celtic’s dominance in both games. Only poor finishing and inspired goalkeeping kept the score below double figures.
The only concern before the games kicked off was how many injuries we’d incur, because there was no doubt Linfield were going to put the boot in, given the opportunity. Lucky for us, as hard as they tried they didn’t do any real damage.
As in most ties like this, the objective is always to progress, and we did that with plenty to spare.
Off the park it was a different story altogether.
To begin with UEFA made a real arse of the first leg schedule. If Linfield, a member club and the PSNI can’t guarantee the safety of opposing players and fans, then the ties should have been switched. They bowed to the bigots by playing the game on Friday night.
But that wasn’t enough for the thugs that follow the Belfast team.
They had to go that step further and shower our players with missile when they tried to take corners. Coins were their favourite items for throwing, until one moron thought it better to throw a half a Buckfast bottle at our Leigh Griffiths.
Leigh, after pointing out the bottle to the referee was duly booked for ‘time wasting’. That last sentence sums up the performance of the referee on the night. The incessant sectarian singing was almost expected. However, one of their fans tried to get onto the pitch at the end, whether it was to get at our players, or our fans was immaterial. It only highlights how incapable of protecting our fans and players the PSNI were.
The second leg was a mere formality. Of the 1500 ticket allocation, they took up 800 tickets and sold the rest to a mob of Sevco fans, who were intent on causing trouble. The hymn book for the 90 minutes of the game was identical to what we get at a Derby match. Just bile with a mix of accents, that’s all.
In between the abuse, a group of Linfield/Sevconians did try to break through the security ranks to get at the Celtic support in the Lisbon Lions stand, but were thwarted by the stewards and police.
From what I can gather, none of the actions in that area were reported on by the SMSM, as they were obviously too busy being offended by the banners in the ‘Green Brigade’ section of the stadium.
When the news came through yesterday from UEFA they’d decided to charge Leigh Griffiths, the original emotion of shock was soon replaced with that of expectation.
In the world of European football, as far as the governing body is concerned, common sense and normality simply don’t exist. If it did, we’d played the game at Celtic Park last week, with a return in Belfast this week.
Unfortunately, that would have meant them admitting the game was high profile, therefore they’d be under even more scrutiny. That in turn would have forced them to appoint a more experienced referee, instead of the Spanish clown shoes who officiated last Friday.
Notice nothing’s been said by the beaks about his performance, though I hope Celtic have the balls to challenge any punishment UEFA put down. The five bookings were nothing more than a farcical attempt by the whistler to curry favour with the home support.
Only one, if you’re lucky, merited a yellow card.
As I said earlier, the shock soon wore off, as UEFA over the years have a history of making a balls up of decisions involving Celtic.
A bit like their Scottish counterparts, the SFA. Who, with their bowling club committee attitude to our game only really exist to keep the new club from Ibrox sweet.
The people in charge of our game from FIFA, through UEFA and down to the SFA have absolutely no idea about how to run a fair and balanced organisation.
From World Cups in the searing heat of Qatar, to automatic qualification for the Champions League Group stages for the bigger nations, down to local promotion of cheating, tells us our game is badly in need of change.
Maybe the clubs, like Celtic, should be doing more to affect that change…..
Moments after a moron from the home support threw a Buckfast bottle at Leigh Griffiths, as he was about to take a corner in the Linfield v Celtic game last Friday night, I Tweeted, almost tongue in cheek, the SMSM would blame our player for the incident.
That was just after the equally moronic Spanish referee booked Leigh, for whatever reason, as he tried to dodge, not only the bottle, but several coins, as they rained down on him.
Regrettably, but not surprisingly, I was correct.
The morning after the game and somehow the player bringing to attention the possibility of being hit be a missile, is now accused of ‘winding the fans up’ and, wait for it, ‘time wasting’!
As sure as night follows day, the SMSM managed to turn a shocking incident, into a ‘Celtic bad’.
Chief instigator, as expected, was BFDJ, who was at pains to tell us Leigh should have ‘just got on with it’.
Lucky for Leigh, he’s quite slight in build and none of the missiles thrown hit their intended target. The same can’t be said for Johnstone, who would have been much easier to hit, although anything above the shoulders wouldn’t cause much damage…
Meanwhile, we await the response from UEFA.
Ironically, the match delegate at the Celtic v Hapoel Be’er Sheva Champions League qualifier last season was from the Belfast club. His report included the fans display of Palestine flags, which resulted in Celtic receiving a £15,000 fine.
Let’s see how UEFA view his club’s inability to safeguard our players.
As a football fan, most of the time when you go to a game, you focus only on your own team. Sure the opponents may have a couple of moves or a player or two who catch your eye.
But most of the time it’s your own team.
Occasionally, you come away from a game hoping or wishing one of the players you just watched would join your club.
Yesterday at Celtic Park, Lyon fielded a number of players who wouldn’t look out of place in the Hoops, just now never mind the future. How likely they are to come to Scotland is questionable but not impossible.
A few of the young French players were superb, notably Myziane Maolida, who scored a great solo second goal for the visitors, and Nabil Fekir, who pulled the strings in the middle of the park.
Like our latest signing Olivier Ntcham, many of the young Lyon players would have come through the same French youth system, as did our very own hit man Moussa Dembele.
And, it’s exactly the market Celtic are looking to find the next big thing.
There’s no doubt some of the boys who played in Lyon colours yesterday won’t make the grade at the French club, that’s just the way it is. Football careers are hard to predict, but who’s to say that one, maybe two of those boys won’t find themselves following Olivier or Moussa?
Could be we witnessed some future Celtic players at Celtic Park on Saturday?
You just never know….
Less than 24 hours after travelling to Belfast to play Linfield in the Champions League, Celtic hosted French outfit Olympique Lyon in a pre-arranged friendly at Celtic Park yesterday.
Brendan Rodgers too the opportunity to start new Bhoys, 21 year-old Frenchman Olivier Ntcham, 19 year-old on loan signing Kundai Benyu, and a first Paradise place to Jonny Hayes. January signing Kouassi Eboue was also in the starting line-up.
It was also the first time the newly laid park got a run out, and a bit of a test with incessant rain almost from the kick-off.
Celtic had the best of the first half chances, with Callum McGregor having a goal ruled offside by referee Brother Madden. Moussa and Kundai both came close before the interval, only to be thwarted by the Lyon goalkeeper.
The second half say Lyon bring on six players, while Brendan’s only change at the beginning of the second period, was Doris De Vries departing for young Conor Harland in goal.
As more changes came and went, the young Lyon side began to take control and eventually ran our deserved 4-0 winners, with Celtic finishing the game with nine players that came through the academy.
The game was a good exercise to get players some needed game time. All the new Bhoys played well, Benyu looked lively and up for the game, Ntcham can certainly see a pass, that was apparent early on and wee Jonny Hayes put in a great shift, even though he played on Friday night and was subject to some rough treatment from the Lyon full backs.
Despite the score, I’m sure Brendan will be happy, it’s all about getting the fitness up at this stage of the season.
Celtic will face Linfield tonight in Belfast, knowing if they take care of the Irish side they may face another trip across the water, only this time to a much friendlier welcome than can be expected this teatime.
Progress to the next round, will see the Hoops play the winners of Dundalk of the Republic of Ireland or Mikel Lustig’s former club Rosenberg, two opponents we’ve already met in Europe’s premier competition.
The first leg on Wednesday evening ended in a 1-1 draw, with the second leg in Norway to come next week.
Although Celtic turned down an official allocation for tonight’s Champions League second round qualifier first leg, the home team have made a statement this afternoon, confirming a section of Windsor Park will be specifically reserved for supporters who decided to go anyway.
The fact Linfield have needed to take these steps, tells us the Hoops WILL have some backing in the hostile East Belfast stadium.
All Celtic and Brendan Rodgers can do now is take care of things on the pitch, and hope there’s nothing to worry about off it. A lead to come back to Celtic Park for Wednesday’s sell-out second leg will do nicely.
C’mon the Hoops..
It’s quite clear, when it comes to transfer business, be it a player leaving or a newcomer ready to start his career at Celtic Park, the club just go about their business without too much fuss.
And this week is a great example of how it’s done.
At the weekend, French under 21 international Olivier Ntcham came up to Glasgow for a look around and go over the terms that would lead to him wearing the Hoops for the next four years.
Of course he had to pass a medical, and after a few days was announced by the champions as Brendan Rodgers third signing this transfer window, in a deal reputed to start at £4.5m.
On the same day, Celtic winger Gary Mackay-Steven made the trip up north to sign for our closest rivals Aberdeen on a two year deal. Gary, thanked the club and the fans for making his stay at Celtic Park memorable, and in return, the young boy from Wick leaves us with the best wishes of the Celtic support.
Two transfers, no fuss, no hassle, all done professionally as it should be.
There was no need to involve the SMSM to unsettle any player before making a derisory offer on the basis the signing target was looking to leave anyway.
Those kind of tactics are best left to clubs who have problems with rules, integrity and. their very existence….
Celtic this morning paid more for Olivier Ntcham than they have for any player in the last ten years, when Gordon Strachan splashed out to Hibs £4.4m for Scott Brown.
The signing of Frenchman Ntcham from Manchester City, for a reputed £4.5m is another sign of Brendan Rodgers’ intention to make a serious assault on the Champions League this season.
21 year-old Ollie, spent the last two years gaining valuable experience in one of the toughest leagues in the world, Serie A, with Genoa, playing more than 40 times for the Italian club.
From what we’ve been told, the capture of Ntcham is a real coup for the club, as Brendan uses his influence again to bring one of France’s brightest stars to Celtic Park.
And yet again, the player comes into an environment where he can settle quickly as his French under-21 team mate Moussa Dembele, and former Manchester City team mates Scott Sinclair and Dedryck Boyata already ply their trade.
From every Celtic fan, welcome to the greatest football club on the planet Ollie!