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Brendan Rodgers welcomes return of Celtic fan group as he seeks club unity

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 22 Dec 2023

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Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers declared unity was paramount as he welcomed the return of the Green Brigade.

The fan group will be back in Celtic Park for Saturday’s visit of Livingston after a ban was lifted.

About 300 fans had their season tickets suspended for six matches and were denied tickets for away games, while other vocal supporters appeared to stay away in solidarity.

Rodgers said: “Celtic’s history is littered with late goals and a big part of that is down to the fans and the whole stadium really getting behind the team. That’s what makes Celtic.

“When you have the manager, the supporters and the players all on the same page, then it’s a real force.

“It hasn’t been the atmosphere for a number of weeks but that’s the responsibility of everyone.

“But we know when the atmosphere is white hot at Celtic it makes it a really, really difficult place for teams to come and play and also it gives the players that extra edge as well.

“For the guys to be back in, there is no doubt they have given an ambience in that corner section. The club gave them that opportunity to be the first club in Britain to have that safe standing area.

“Hopefully they can go back in and support the team and their responsibility as well as the whole stadium to really get behind the team to help us get the result.”

Fans of Motherwell, Hibernian, Feyenoord and Hearts have been more vocal than the home support in recent weeks outside of very sporadic bursts of noise.

Celtic drew with the Steelmen and then lost their first domestic home game in almost three years against Hearts last weekend.

When asked if the Green Brigade’s absence had contributed to those below-par performances, Rodgers said: “I don’t know if it’s specifically them. We have still had 60,000 in there. The responsibility is for everyone.

“Firstly I always look at the team and what we can do as a team to provide the football that can excite the supporters because that’s what we always aim to do.

“But of course Celtic is based around that collect spirit in the stands that really drives the team forward.

“But either way, I just think it’s really good news. There’s no point looking at the past.

“Great news for them that they can get in and watch their team because they want to support the team and the club. They are better being inside and cheering us on and hopefully that brings us all together and we can now look forward for the rest of the season.”

The loudest noise against Hearts came when fans chanted “sack the board” amid frustration over the club’s summer transfer activity.

When asked about the importance of unity, Rodgers said: “It is paramount for any successful club, especially a top club where the intensity is so high. And what makes a top club is when everyone is together and that spirit, that collective fight, everyone pushing forward.”

Celtic cited an “increasingly serious escalation in unacceptable behaviours” for their initial decision, which the fans declared “evidently unfair” but an agreement was reached following talks.

A spokesperson for Celtic said: “Following consultation with the group, the club has now implemented an updated rail seating safety code of conduct which has been accepted by the group, allowing for a return to a situation where rules and regulations around operating safely are respected and complied with.”

Liel Abada will not feature against Livi and his chances of returning from a thigh injury in time to face Rangers on December 30 appear slim.

“He is out on the grass running with the medical team,” Rodgers said. “It’s not imminent but he is certainly in a really, really good place and hopefully some time in the near future he will be able to be back in with the squad.”

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