A Christmas message

Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of conflict within the Celtic community. My greatest concern here are the divisions that are beginning to occur within the support and between the fans and the club.

As supporters, we support the team and the club. We are also duty bound to uphold the values of the club.

In all my years as a Celtic fan I’ve encountered belief systems that are not my own. I’ve also seen Celtic fans battle against issues I wouldn’t have given given much thought to had it not been for them.

Within the Celtic support there are those who have strong opinions on subjects that others do not. That isn’t really anything new and very typically “Celtic”.

However, there are a number of issues that exist on a fan v club basis that have attracted too much attention without a middle ground being met. I’m not laying the blame at one doorstep here, but there is most definitely a requirement to address these issues and agree on the best way forward.

Not everyone amongst the support believes in fighting for same issues. Nor can you be judgemental against people just wanting to watch the football.

The most recent banners depicting Sands and Wallace left many people scratching their heads. Not everyone was clued up on that one and were very much in the dark.

Regardless of whether a valid point exists here, the question is: was it the correct time and place? Neil Lennon didn’t think seem to think so and he isn’t alone in that assessment.

Appart from that incident, the club appears to have a love/hate relationship with the Green Brigade. And within that, there is the matter of police interference with said group.

This ‘publicity’ of sorts has increased and from what some fans have suggested is attracting ‘hangers-on’ as well. I say hangers on because the GB have defended themselves by stating that some of the unsavoury actions of late were not linked to them.

Now to be honest, I don’t know where the GB begins and ends. I only know what kind of noise they bring to the support and it’s been pretty astounding.

I’ve also read that the police have targeted, intimidated and manhandled members of the GB or at least fans within that section of the ground over a period of time. How much the club has been involved (as has been suggested) in any of that, I am unclear on.

This and other matters of debate such as the living wage for Celtic staff, continue to challenge the relationship between club and some supporters. For many, its all worth fighting for but are we all (fan and club) going about this the right way?

The club are nothing without the fans and the as far as the business end goes, the club is being run within its means.  What needs to be addressed seriously and as a matter of urgency is the communication, respect and understanding between the supporters and the club.

If acts of vandalism have taken place in Celtic Park (as one official mentioned to me earlier this year) and not just away grounds (Fir Park), then it only reduces the credibility of any argument supporters put forward. Equally, Celtic must be open to the voice of the supporters and indeed supportive to them if injustice is taking place in the stands.

Celtic fans are not animals or hooligans. If you represent any of that in football grounds then quite frankly I hope they chuck the book at you.

Like many of you, I’ve stood on the terraces and sat in the stands. On many an occasion through challenging times for the club.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt like vandalising seating at Celtic Park or anyone elses stadium for that matter. Aligning yourself with that sort of behaviour setting off flares etc makes you anything but Celtic minded in my opinion.

Surely this is an opportunity to open a solid channel of communication between the fans and the club. Not just one supporter group or the GB – all supporters.

This is a great club with a great history. An unbroken history I might add.

Do not allow this storm to gather momentum. It’s destructive and unnecessary.

We can all continue to debate our views so long as we are open to listening to each other and do it in the appropriate arena. In tandem with this, each supporter and official of Celtic Football Club has a responsibility to represent the club in the kind of manner that gains respect, not the opposite.

Whether we believe politics belong in football or not, will remain open for debate. Personally, when it overshadows what is being done on the park, it is a sign that times are bad (which they aren’t) or you haven’t thought it through.

If displaying banners of one kind or another bring action from UEFA, then don’t we have to think this through some more? In the end it only brings down a blanket of blame and shame on the whole Celtic community and its the club that get fined.

I don’t believe that people wish to see the support just sit back and accept what is dished out. That suggestion by some fans is totally and utterly absurd but there is a time and a place to take action.

Yet fans such as myself do not want to see matches overshadowed by political debate. Perhaps an alternative forum is the best way forward here.

Its not as though we’re trying to oust the board here. A bolder statement is being made, bringing a cloud over the club, UEFA sanctions and divisions in the Celtic community.

You don’t have look very far to see how one club can implode on every level. A lesson must be learned from that.

In 2014 I can only hope for better communication and greater respect amongst fans and between the club and the whole of the support. We are all in this together and it’s our responsibility ensure the good name of the club and its history is maintained, not tarnished.

Hail! Hail!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from Stevie Mac