Monday, April 22, 2024

Livingston not happy with Celtic fans’ ‘unapproved’ banners at Sunday’s match

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 3 Apr 2024

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Livingston have expressed concern that Celtic fans broke pre-match agreements by entering the pitchside area to unveil two “unapproved” banners in their stadium during Sunday’s match between the teams.

As they usually do, the Lions allocated three of the four stands at the Tony Macaroni Arena to the Hoops in order to fill the ground and generate revenue.

However, the situation backfired on Sunday when several visiting supporters left the stands to stand in front of the advertising boards and roll out a huge banner along the side of the pitch commemorating the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin, which read ‘Born into slavery, they were Freedom’s Sons’.

Another banner was unfurled behind one of the goals at half-time that read ‘Hold on to our title Bhoys. Don’t Give up The Dream’.

Livingston released a statement on Wednesday addressing a situation that angered many of their supporters.

“Prior to this fixture, a visiting supporters group called ‘The Green Brigade’, via the Celtic SLO (supporter liaison officer), requested a Tifo display in all three stands allocated to the Celtic support and to have a banner displayed along the front of the East Stand,” it read.

“The banner was to read ‘You Play for Us and We’ll Sing for You’.

“This request was refused and instead permission was granted for a Tifo and banner display in the South Stand only.

“This matter was discussed at the pre-match meeting, held in the week leading up to the match, where representatives from the club, Celtic FC, Amberstone (our steward company) and a delegate from the SPFL were all present.

“The agreement for a Tifo and banner display in the South Stand was understood by all in attendance.

“On match-day around an hour prior to kick off, a further request for a Tifo display in all three stands was requested by the same visiting supporters group and was again refused.

“Against the instruction of the club and police, the banner was allowed into the ground, unchecked, through an emergency gate that was opened due to safety concerns.

“The banner was then displayed along the front of the East Stand – again, against the agreed procedure.

“It was then deemed that this banner and the Tifo display would be allowed to continue on the grounds of public safety for those in the ground and to prevent further disorder that may have delayed the kick off or jeopardised the game going ahead.

“At the start of second half a further unapproved banner was then unfurled. The banner itself wasn’t an issue as such, however, again, visiting supporters were permitted access trackside to display the banner which is wholly and utterly unacceptable.

“Full discussions are ongoing with external partners who were working at the stadium on Sunday to find out why a number of these incidents were allowed to happen and what steps will be taken to ensure there is no repeat in future fixtures.”

Despite Sunday’s issues, manager David Martindale said he would still prefer to see Livi’s stadium packed with Old Firm fans.

“I think the situation could have been dealt with better on Sunday,” he said, speaking at his media briefing on Wednesday. “But for me, would I rather have a stadium with 8000 Old Firms in it? Yep, all day long.

“It brings its own problems at the same time, but I think it brings a great atmosphere to the game of football.

“Since it came into the Premiership, a lot of the club’s business model has been based on away fans. Some folk won’t like hearing that, but at the end of the day those away crowds probably make up about 33 per cent of our turnover.

“Even if we take the finances out of the equation, I’d still want to fill those three stands, whether it’s with home fans or away fans, because for me that’s football.

“I want to be working in those high-pressured environments with great atmospheres.”

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