The Green Brigade, known for their colourful and often memorable banners, have found themselves at the centre of a contentious debate. Celtic has decided not to allow or facilitate these iconic displays during the Champions League home games. The question on the fan’s mind is simple: Has the club got it wrong, or are they right to be cautious?
On one hand, the Green Brigade’s banners are more than just eye-catching artwork; they’re an integral part of the matchday experience at Celtic Park. These displays often serve as a twelfth man, rallying both the fans and the players. In the high-stakes, nerve-wracking atmosphere of a Champions League match, this extra boost can be invaluable.
The banners also add a unique flavour to Celtic’s identity, making the club stand out in a competition filled with Europe’s elite. Moreover, football is as much about the fans as it is about what happens on the pitch.
However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The club has faced multiple fines from UEFA over the years, often due to the pyrotechnics involved in these displays but some of the messaging has also been on the receiving end of UEFA’s wrath. These fines are not just a drain on the club’s finances; they also put Celtic at risk of harsher penalties. Beyond UEFA, Glasgow City Council can also revoke Celtic’s safe standing permit should they be deemed to fall foul of safety measures.
Then there’s the issue of safety. With pyrotechnics involved, the risk, however minimal, of an accident occurring increases. In a packed stadium, this could have serious consequences, and the club would undoubtedly be held responsible.
So, has the club misfired, or are they right to be cautious? The answer is not straightforward. Both sides of the argument have merit. The banners undeniably add to the atmosphere and give Celtic Park an edge that few other stadiums possess. We point to the incredibly evocative display a couple of seasons ago with the nighttime Glasgow Derby. The atmosphere went up a few extra notches as the pyro smoke bellowed into the Glasgow night sky and around the stadium.
However, the financial and safety risks are real and could have long-term repercussions for the club. Perhaps a middle ground could be found, such as allowing banners but under stricter regulations, especially concerning the use of pyrotechnics.
It’s worth noting the groups say the reason behind the Celtic pulling the plug is because they are being punished for sticking up for their members against harassment from Police Scotland.
A recent leaflet distributed in the standing section at Celtic Park read ‘Flag Day witnessed the Green Brigade’s innovative use of a DIY ‘pulley’ system to add a new dimension to their tifos. Last season, they even invested over £1,000 in a consultation to explore the possibility of installing infrastructure for 3-D tifos at Celtic Park. Despite these efforts and Celtic’s pioneering role in the UK fan scene, the club has shown little interest in engaging with fans on such initiatives.
‘This is particularly concerning as other clubs are moving ahead with larger standing sections, designated singing areas, and advanced tifo infrastructure. Tifos have been a hallmark of the Green Brigade’s contributions to Celtic Park for 17 years, adding a unique layer of excitement to big matches. They kicked off the season with a magical display featuring the league trophy emerging from a magician’s hat. However, the club has since decided to ban all Green Brigade tifos.
‘This is especially frustrating as it marks the second consecutive year that the club has obstructed tifos during Champions League matches, a time when the team could use all the support it can get. Even more troubling is the club’s reasoning for the ban, which appears to be a punitive response to North Curve Celtic’s efforts to expose police harassment of its members by exposing the harassment of Police Scotland officers.’
It’s disappointing to see the two parties failing to come to an agreement. Lazio are due up next at Celtic Park, the atmosphere should be red hot on the night.