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Celtic FC denies supporters victimisation claims

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CELTIC Football Club has denied accusations they are complicit in targeting a group of supporters who claim they are being victimised by Strathclyde Police and the club.

The group, known as the Green Brigade and regarded as hardcore supporters, said a number of season-ticket holders had their membership suspended last week.

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They have accused Celtic of trying to exclude them and Strathclyde Police of harassment.

A spokesperson for Strathclyde Police said: “We would actively encourage anyone who thinks they have been unfairly targeted to report their concerns to us and be confident that a thorough investigation will be carried out.”

Celtic has also strongly denied the allegations.

In a statement the club said it will not tolerate any “unjust” or “inappropriate” treatment of its supporters.

“Accusations suggesting that the club is in some way involved in targeting supporters are ludicrous. These allegations have no foundation whatsoever and, of course, are very disappointing,” it said.

“What would be the club’s motivation for being involved in activity which targets or victimises supporters. It is simply not true. It does not make sense.”

However, via their website, the Green Brigade accused officers from Strathclyde Police of victimisation and said Celtic FC has chosen to ignore the group’s attempts to resolve the issue.

The Green Brigade, estimated to number 300, said that relations with the club had now ‘disintegrated’.

They said: “It has now gotten to the stage where members of our group live in constant fear of the police showing up at their homes or workplace, with a trumped up charge or told they will be banned from football matches.”

Social Scientist Kevin Rooney, who is currently undertaking PHD research into the policing and regulation of Celtic and Rangers, said: “The Scottish media and politicians have become preoccupied with sectarianism in Scottish football.

“While the Green Brigade would not be to everyone’s taste, their treatment at the hands of the police and club’s authorities does symbolise the increasing demonisation and criminalisation of the more radical and political section of the Celtic support.”

He added: “When a senior police officer equates a certain section of fans with vermin, he merely expresses the kind of contempt shown by politicians and commentators who have become used to presenting football fans as a problem to be managed rather than human beings with rights.”

He described the current situation as a “slippery slope”.

The Green Brigade has said that unless things improve, they will be unable to attend future matches.

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Robert Mulhern
ABOUT 

Robert is a freelance news and sports journalist. He is also the author of A Very Different County and creator/producer of Sex, Flights and Videotapes for RTE's Doc on One. Follow him @MulhernRobert on Twitter

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