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Lord Livingston’s place on Celtic board besmirches club’s charitable status

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Celtic were founded in 1888 by Brother Walfrid, with the aim to raise funds to provide food for the poor of the East End of Glasgow – an area that was greatly impoverished and had a high rate of infant mortality.

There is no denying that since its foundation, Celtic have donated and helped the people of Scotland as well as those impoverished and in need of help abroad, but the latest vote on tax credits in the House of Lords has thrown up an issue with one of its board members.

The current Tory government had sent a bill to the House of Lords in the hope of seeing tax credits cut, this would have had a huge impact on single parents and working families across the county. As you can imagine the bill was not a popular one among the populace and thankfully as someone who receives tax credits, the House of Lords voted against the cuts.

But, as the names of those who voted in favour of the cuts were highlighted, one name popped out among the rest for Celtic supporters – Lord Livingston of Parkhead.

Lord Livingston or Ian Livingston, as he should be known as rather than the archaic title given to him, was appointed to Celtic’s board back in October 2007 as an independent non-executive director. He is now a Conservative Minister of State for Trade and Investment – the club have coincidentally failed to mention what party he represents in his bio on the official website.

Now politicians on Celtic’s board is not a new thing, as former Labour MP Dr. John Reid was club chairman from 2007 to 2011 – an appointment that was opposed by many Celtic fans due to his political involvement and voting for the war in Iraq. The furore over Livingston surrounds the way he voted in the recent tax credits Lords vote.

With the rise of foodbanks across Scotland, the Westminster government’s benefits cut hitting the most vulnerable hardest – including the shocking news that just over 2,000 people have died after being declared fit for work – the government’s plan to cut tax credits by £4.4 billion would further pile misery on the poor and the vulnerable not just in Scotland, but also the UK.

Livingston joined the likes of Seb Coe, Michelle Mone, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Karren Brady in voting in favour of the £4.4 billion cuts – and it is that vote which has ultimately pushed Celtic fans to demand Livingston’s departure from the board.

The club’s social charter states that they have a ‘wider role and the responsibility of being a major Scottish social institution promoting health, well-being and social integration’.

Cutting tax credits that the poor, the vulnerable and those on low incomes need to survive is clearly against Celtic’s own social charter of promoting ‘health and well being’ and such cuts continue to push the poor in Scotland back to the time of Brother Walfrid with many turning to food banks to feed themselves and their kids.

Celtic’s Charity Foundation does great work and has recently donated funds as well as an ambulance to help the relief effort for refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.

But all of this hard work by the likes of Tony Hamilton is besmirched by Livingston’s continued presence on the Celtic board and provides further evidence that the current board at Celtic do not care about the fans and the disconnection between the two parties has grown further.

Now fans have taken to the internet and are signing a petition calling on the Scottish champions to remove Livingston from the board. Over 7000 people have signed it so far, which states: “We find it hypocritical that Lord Livingston is considered a part of this club and wish him to be removed from the board of directors.”

Eoin Ryan from Dublin signed the petition, stating: “His actions go against everything that this great club stands for, and was founded for.”

Andrew Glen demanded action, adding: “In an era when the board ban fans for minor offences, claiming they bring the club into disrepute, no action by any fan can be as shameful as this.

“A club founded on the principle of feeding the poor, has a Tory Lord on it’s board who votes to push them deeper into poverty. This is not the club I grew up following.

“Unfortunately, it is time for fans to vote with their feet. These parasites are so far removed from the ordinary fan, hitting them in the pocket is the only thing that will make them take note.

“Boycott of match tickets, stalls in the stadium, which are now let out, and merchandise, will not only cost them money, but generate pressure from sponsors and contractors as well. Ian Livingstone is the embodiment of all that is wrong with our club. Celtic Football Club – it’s in the wrong hands.”

Stuart Campbell, signed: “Lord Livingston’s actions in supporting the recent Tax Credits Bill is incompatible with The CFC social charter and his position as a director in untenable.”

Roy Wood from Dumbarton, commented: “An utter embarrassment on Celtic Football Club. Shame on any Celt who condones the continued involvement of this man in our club.”

Michael Lawrie from Gateshead, said: “There is no room at this club for people like this, the hard work of the fans in recent years collecting for food banks and the likes are what this club is all about. Only option is to get rid of scum like this, you sealed your own fate, hope the door smacks you on the way out.”

There are thousands of comments but all of the same mindset – Get Livingston out now!

As Celtic claim on their website – “The club always has been and always will simply aim to be the team of the people.”

With Livingston sitting pretty in the boardroom, can Celtic and its board really aim to be a team of the people when one of its director’s votes in favour of taking more money away from the poor, the needy and the vulnerable?

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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