Monday 25 September 2017

Lennon urges fans to toe the line at Saints as police lift banner ban

Celtic's manager Neil Lennon
Celtic's manager Neil Lennon

Press Association

Celtic have urged supporters to create a positive atmosphere at McDiarmid Park today after persuading the police to reverse a ban on flags and banners.

St Johnstone and Police Scotland confirmed that the restrictions, which were announced 48 hours earlier in a bid to prevent the use of pyrotechnics, had been lifted.

Celtic's most recent Scottish Premiership away trip, against Motherwell, saw 18 smoke bombs let off, two of them thrown on to the pitch from the away fans. Celtic fans also broke over 250 seats.

Their St Stephen's Day clash against Dundee at Dens Park last year also saw disturbances.

A club statement read: "Football is about colour and atmosphere and creating a positive occasion for all and everything should be done to ensure that such an event can take place.

"However, we should also bear in mind that supporter safety is of paramount importance and we would reiterate, therefore, that we do not welcome any form of pyrotechnics or smoke bombs at our matches. We want to see our matches played in a positive and safe atmosphere."

St Johnstone joined Celtic in asking police to lift the ban, which was initially instated because banners have been used as cover for pyrotechnics.

EXTENSIVE

The Perth club said: "Both clubs have since received representations for their supporters on this matter and Celtic FC in particular has had extensive discussions with their main supporters' representatives and has been assured that their supporters will back their club in the right manner.

"Further discussion has today taken place between all parties and a request from the clubs made to Police Scotland that the ban be lifted has been accepted.

"Safety remains of paramount importance to both clubs and the match will be managed with this in mind and with Police Scotland having reviewed this policy, the two clubs are now putting their faith in all supporters that they shall support their teams in a manner which befits what should be a great game of football on a special date in the football calendar.

The match commander, Supt Kevin Lynch, added: "Following further discussions with both clubs and ourselves and having taken the views of supporters' associations into account, we support the decision taken to allow flags and banners at this fixture."

Celtic manager Neil Lennon had earlier outlined his hopes for a positive atmosphere.

"One thing we want is the colour and atmosphere," he said. "What we don't want is the pyrotechnics, flares. It doesn't add anything to the game and it can affect people on and off the field."

ST JOHNSTONE V CELTIC

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Irish Independent

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