The group claims that Strathclyde Police are criminalising them, with around 50% of the group brought up on police charges or facing the stark reality of being banned from games. Although the statement fails to state what charges or what the potential bans are for.
The group’s statement published on their official forum read: “A newspaper report last year claimed that one of their [Strathclyde Police] senior officers had promised to ‘smash the Green Brigade’ and it certainly looks like their plan is in motion.
“Last Wednesday was a special night at Celtic Park. The display before the match was beyond our wildest expectations, the atmosphere was electric from start to finish and more importantly, Celtic beat arguably the best team in world football. It is a night that will live long in the memory of everyone connected to the club.
“However, while the rest of the support were still on Cloud 9, our group was brought back down to Earth with a bump as it transpired that Strathclyde Police had visited yet another two members’ home with a view to charging them. To put this into perspective, this means that just under 50% of the Green Brigade have either faced, or are facing a police charge/ban from football.
“Last week, the first home league match since we released the initial statement, a young fan from within 111 was arrested and taken away for the ‘crime’ of having a water bottle inside a football stadium. When questioned about their actions, one of the senior officers within the stadium, Alex Kelly, smugly replied that “if you don’t play ball, we won’t play ball.” In other words, this young fan was being used as a pawn in their game.”
With this alleged intimidation and singling out, the group have now announced that they will no longer take this lying down and have announced the two match boycott of the Inverness Caledonian Thistle match on the 24th November and the Arbroath Scottish Cup match on the 1st December.
The statement continued: “It has come to the stage where we have to act and fight back. We can’t continue to let the Police have free rein to arrest and charge whoever they please. It is having an astronomical effect on people’s livelihoods. Those members who are left without a charge can’t even enjoy the football anymore in case it leads to a chap at the door that could change their lives forever. The grim reality is that if we don’t act now, there may not be a group left come the end of the season.
“As a result, we have no choice but to highlight this further in the form of a two-match boycott from Celtic Park. This will begin immediately and means that during the forthcoming league match v Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Scottish Cup match v Arbroath, the Green Brigade will not be present whatsoever.
“This is clearly not a decision that has been taken lightly. Our members live for going to watch and support the team we love, just like every other fan out there. Sadly, we aren’t being treated like every other fan and in fact face victimisation and harassment on a scale that is unimaginable. We hope that this boycott will raise awareness of our situation and the end result will be that Strathclyde Police will relent. We’d also once again ask Celtic PLC to defend the fans by using their considerable influence to bring an end to these oppressive police tactics.”
The group have called on all fans within the section that they are housed to join them in the protest and leave the sections empty during both matches.
They added: “We’d like to stress again that this is not something that will be taken lightly. Many of our members haven’t missed a Celtic match in years so it’s clearly not been easy to come to this decision. However, it is simply a last resort as this cannot be allowed to continue. The continued support of those in [section]111, and indeed the rest of the Celtic community is greatly appreciated and we can’t thank you enough. Without this, the group wouldn’t have survived.
“We’d also like to make it clear to those who wish to see the end of the Green Brigade, that we will be sticking by the motto created when we were formed in 2006 and will not go down without a fight.”
Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been a supporter of the group and last season when Celtic secured the Scottish Premier League title, he said: “I just wanted to say thank you to them [Green Brigade] because week-in, week-out, they have created a great atmosphere. They sing non-stop, they add colour. Sometimes they are a little bit controversial but in the main they have behaved themselves impeccably.
“They have changed the culture of the stadium. It´s a fun place to come for supporters and the atmosphere over the last two years in some of the big games has been fantastic and they have been the catalyst for that. The noise, the singing, the pride – it’s all there now. I´m delighted with that. It was missing for a few years and I think more than anything, the fans have their pride back.”
Both Celtic Football Club and Strathclyde Police were unavailable for comment.