Saturday 24 August 2019

Celtic supporters groups accuse chairman of 'unforgivable slur'

Gavin McCafferty

Several Celtic fans groups have called for club chairman Ian Bankier to consider his position following his remarks about the criticism of fellow director Lord Ian Livingston.

Bankier described some Hoops fans' online treatment of the Tory peer as "criminally racist" amid the row over Livingston's House of Lords backing for the UK Government's tax credits cuts.

The Celtic chairman was speaking at the club's annual general meeting on Friday before Livingston was reappointed as director, despite an online petition calling for him to be removed.

The Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters' Clubs, the Celtic Trust and the Green Brigade have released a joint statement expressing their anger over his "disgraceful remarks".

The statement read: "Mr Bankier's claim that fans opposed to the re-election of Mr Livingston to the Celtic board have engaged in 'criminally racist' social media postings is an unforgivable slur on the Celtic support.

"For him to then evoke the name of Brother Walfrid to justify his unfounded assertion is utterly shameful.

"We are now, since the AGM took place, aware that there were some postings on social media which we condemn and we would support the club, and Mr Livingston, should they take action against those individuals.

"None of this is a justification for the generalised smearing of the Celtic support and, in particular, those of us who voted against Mr Livingston's re-election.

"Mr Bankier committed an error of judgement and showed a complete lack of control at the AGM and this is not acceptable in a Celtic chairman."

The statement added: "Ultimately, we are of the belief that Mr Bankier is no longer able to redeem himself following this attack on the Celtic support, and his failure to retract and apologise immediately afterwards, and we call on him to give serious consideration to his position as chairman of Celtic PLC."

Bankier said at Friday's meeting that Livingston had been "subject to a torrent of utterly base personal abuse conducted over social media in recent weeks".

He added: "The messages posted, in quite a few cases, are criminally racist and in all cases the vocabulary chosen is base and highly abusive."

The club later released a statement on Friday in which Bankier claimed his comments had been exaggerated.

He said: "I have not branded our supporters racist and it is outrageous to suggest that I would ever do that.

"I was only referring to a small number of specific comments which have been made on social media, which I believe are unacceptable, and I know Celtic supporters would agree with me.

"Celtic supporters are the lifeblood of the club and I am delighted to say the best in football, with the best of values."

PA Media

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