Saturday 21 January 2017

Celtic supporters' groups back club's pyrotechnics stance

Published 12/01/2016 | 17:48

Flares on the pitch during the Scottish Cup, Fourth Round match at Stair Park, Stranraer.
Flares on the pitch during the Scottish Cup, Fourth Round match at Stair Park, Stranraer.

Main supporters' groups have backed Celtic's stance on pyrotechnics after their use by some fans at Sunday's Scottish Cup tie at Stranraer landed the club in trouble again.

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Celtic banned three supporters whom they believe set off smoke bombs before and during the 3-0 win at Stair Park.

Scottish FA compliance officer Tony McGlennan has reviewed video footage and Police Scotland confirmed it is also to investigate the incident along with outbreaks of sectarian singing and chanting which is reported to have taken place.

Parkhead bosses issued a statement on Monday saying that "events have again caused embarrassment."

Celtic currently face a UEFA charge after fans set off flares during their Europa League clash with Fenerbahce in Turkey in December, while they have been hit with a series of escalating punishments following several other incidents relating to the conduct of their supporters during European fixtures.

The Celtic Supporters' Association, the Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters' Clubs and the Association of Irish Celtic Supporters' Clubs - who collectively represent tens of thousands of fans - are fully behind the club's position.

Joe O' Rourke, general secretary of the Celtic Supporters' Association, told the Hoops' official website: "I've said on here before, and I have the full backing of our member branches, the use of pyrotechnics needs to stop, and it needs to stop right away.

"I was only yards away from the area where they seemed to be coming from, the people around me were, like me, of the senior variety, and all were of the opinion that it was unacceptable. In fact, there were a few angry words exchanged.

"The dangers to our own supporters alone make it unacceptable. We have many travelling supporters who suffer from respiratory problems, a lot of which were caused by many years working in shipyards and down mines. They deserve to be respected.

"As this is an SFA authority tournament we will probably face a fine or sanctions of some form as well.

"A fantastic reputation built up over many years is being torn down by a small minority of our fans.

"I really don't know who is using the pyrotechnics but I'm asking for the benefit of our own fans to please stop."

A spokesperson for the Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters' Clubs said: "We fully back the club's stance on this issue. Safety of our members and other supporters is of paramount importance.

"No matter your view on pyrotechnics, the only fact worth considering is that they are illegal in Scottish football grounds and most grounds round Europe.

"The continued use of them will cause financial and more damage to the reputation of the club.

"We already face draconian policing on the way to, during and from games.

"This will not improve any time soon if these incidents keep happening. We would fully expect the scrutiny we are placed under to get worse over the remainder of the season."

The Association of Irish Celtic Supporters' Clubs added: "In light of Celtic's statement in relation to the use of pyrotechnics at Sunday's Cup tie at Stranraer, we would urge all supporters to reconsider bringing these devices to games.

"There is an obvious argument that these actions reflect poorly on the club and indeed its supporters, coupled with the possibility of fines or sanctions, although the biggest concern we see, is in relation to health and safety."

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