Celtic escape punishment
Celtic have escaped punishment over an “offensive” banner displayed at Parkhead, the Scottish Professional Football League has confirmed.
The SPFL launched an investigation after fans held aloft a large ’H’ symbol - representing the Maze Prison block in Belfast where 10 Irish Republicans died on hunger strike in 1981 – alongside lyrics derived from Flower of Scotland, ”they fought and died for their wee bit hill and glen”.
The display came during Celtic’s Scottish Premiership fixture against Aberdeen on November 23.
A spokesman for the league said: “The SPFL has concluded its investigation into the appearance of a large ’H’ banner on 23 November 2013 during Celtic’s home match against Aberdeen.
“SPFL regulations forbid ’words or conduct or displaying any writing or other thing which indicates support for, or affiliation to, or celebration of, or opposition to an organisation or group proscribed in terms of the Terrorism Act 2000’.
“The SPFL found that the banner was offensive and breached the SPFL’s rules. However, Celtic FC were able to demonstrate that they had taken all reasonably practicable steps to prevent the banner being displayed at Celtic Park.
“As a result, it was determined that there was no evidence of any breach of the SPFL’s rules by Celtic FC.
“The SPFL wishes to reiterate, for the avoidance of doubt, that any banners indicating support for, or affiliation to, or celebration of, or opposition to an organisation or group proscribed in terms of the Terrorism Act 2000 or are otherwise offensive, are not welcome at SPFL grounds.”
Celtic were fined about £42,000 by UEFA over a similar display during their Champions League clash with AC Milan four days later, after the European governing body decided the ”illicit banner”, including images of hunger striker Bobby Sands and Scottish nationalist icon William Wallace, broke their rules.
Celtic demanded fans leave their political views at home after UEFA announced the disciplinary action.
The supporters’ group responsible for the banners, the Green Brigade, later defended the displays and insisted they were football-related as they were designed to protest against the Scottish Government’s Offensive Behaviour at Football Act and Police Scotland’s implementation of the legislation, which it claims has criminalised expressions of Irish politics.