I wasn’t surprised when I received an email from the media folk at UEFA yesterday telling me that Celtic were in trouble over the banners at the Linfield match at Parkhead.
It led me to this link on their website.
Here is the UEFA statement in full:
Thursday 20 July 2017 16.21CET
Disciplinary proceedings have been opened following the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round second leg match between Celtic FC and Linfield FC (4-0), played on 19 July in Scotland.
Charges against Celtic FC:
- Illicit banner – Art. 16 (2) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations
- Kit infringement – Art. 62 (3) of UEFA Kit Regulations
- Stairways blocked – Art. 38 of UEFA Safety & Security Regulations
This case will be dealt with by the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body on 28 July 2017.
I have no idea if this would have come as a surprise to the chaps who made and displayed the banners.
When I think of their thought processes and the likely consequences for Celtic I am left with only two conclusions:
- The banner chaps DIDN’T see this disciplinary case coming when they displayed the banners.
- They DID this see this coming, but they didn’t care what sanction would be imposed on the club.
If it is (1) then Celtic Football Club has a serious Problem
However, if it is (2) then Celtic Football Club has an even more serious problem.
The supporters of the banner fraternity will scoff at the concerns of the “PLC Board”.
In doing so those folk are perilously close to the club/company dichotomy that they rightly sneer at when it is stated by a customer of Sevco.
There was a clear political case to be made for banners per se in the days of Section 31.
Thankfully, today Sinn Féin political representatives have free access to the media both sides of the Border.
Yes, there are still some in the Dublin media village who live in the Section 31 mindset, but their time is passing.
Apart from inflicting a punishment on the club which they claim to support there didn’t seem to be any serious Republican message to these banners.
The utility function seemed to be to taunt the Linfield fans by conflating Brendan Rodgers with the imagery of Republican propaganda.
I do not know what the Celtic manager thinks of the current political arrangements on this island.
Moreover, it is none of my business.
He is the Celtic manager he isn’t my TD.
For the avoidance of doubt, I have no issues with propagating an Irish Republican message.
However, in 2017 a UEFA match against Linfield wasn’t the time or the place.
What the display DID achieve was to ring the dinner gong for staunch stenographers to take a kick at the club they have a visceral hatred of.
The same chaps are, of course, complicity silent when the klan are in full voice every week at Sevco matches.
Today is the 20th anniversary of the IRA cessation in 1997.
This island is at peace because, in part, various senior participants in the conflict acted with good authority at a crucial juncture.
I was at that well-known Republican haunt in Donegal this morning, Argos in Letterkenny…
Going about my lawful business I bumped into an old buddy.
He lost a fair chunk of his youth in British prisons.
Mrs Thatcher would have called him a terrorist.
He is also a faithful follower of the Parkhead side and I asked him if he had seen the banners in question.
Unimpressed was the best way to characterise his response.
I keep coming back to the utility faction of those banners.
By my reckoning, they served no serious political purpose.
They were not breaking any state censorship on the elected representatives of the Republican Movement here in Ireland.
Moreover, they were not respectfully remembering the sacrifice of the Volunteers or the suffering of the wider nationalist population in the Six Counties.
With those explanations off the table then I’m not left with anything that is worthwhile or defendable.
What isn’t in doubt is that the folk who displayed the banner will not pay any price to UEFA for their actions.
This seems to be a very strange way to support a football club.
Then I again, I don’t get this stuff, as I’m not an “ultra”.