Your Questions on the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act (OBaF) and answers from Celtic FC…
Apologies that the article is late this week; I’ve been playing Santa over the weekend (that’s what happens when you are fat with a grey beard – you get typecast!) and spent Sunday to Tuesday with a couple of my Grandchildren; 2 games missed but plenty more to come!
Anyway, we presented a number of questions to Celtic about the OBaF Act and were provided with some informative feedback and clarifications on the club’s stance and viewpoints on the Act. Hopefully this is something that will be of benefit to the support in understanding Celtic’s position, regardless of whether or not any individual agrees with this position.
Here are YOUR questions and the response from Celtic…
Did the Club think that the Scottish Government Summit after the “Shame Game” in March 2011 was justified?
John Paul outlined that the Summit organised was not necessary or even justified. However, in light of the publicity at the time Celtic took the view that attending the Summit was better than non-attendance.
Did the Club believe that Celtic were equally responsible for the incidents in the “Shame Game” which led to the OBaF legislation? The Legislation was passed following the so-called “Shame Game”; what offences did Police Scotland cite that the Celtic support were guilty of and what legislation they were in breach of?
Celtic take the view that the Legislation was not necessarily a result of events at the game in March 2012, therefore it cannot be certain that any alleged offences at that game contributed to the Legislation being enacted.
Did the Club support the OBaF Act?
The Club was and is completely opposed to the OBaF Act. Celtic argued against the proposed legislation as part of the consultation undertaken by the Scottish Government prior to introducing the Act.
What’s the club’s stance on the Offensive Behaviour Act consolidation private members bill proposed by James Kelly MSP? It has been noted that Celtic responded to the James Kelly survey on the OBA – can Celtic provided CQN with a copy of Celtic’s response?
The Club supports the Private Members Bill proposed by James Kelly MSP and has very clear views on this; the Club responded to the survey on OBAF and the attached link sets out the Club’s position in detail:
Would the club support a new piece of legislation to be put in place, such as a legally binding fan charter?
The Club doesn’t think any further Legislation is necessary and has stated previously that it believes there was sufficient legislation in place to address incidents which occurred in and around football matches prior to the OBaF Act being passed.
Will Celtic take steps to issue a ‘banned songbook’, outlining what songs the club view to be either inappropriate or offensive?
The Club’s view is that the vast majority of fans know what is and what isn’t acceptable. For example, there is a clear difference between songs and chants at away matches in comparison to those at home matches, where there is very little in the way of unacceptable songs or chants from the Celtic support.
NOTES: the Club’s response to the OBaF survey for James Kelly’s Private Members Bill states that it feels there is a perception that the introduction of the Act has in fact contributed to the singing of certain songs and chants that are perceived (by some) to be unacceptable. This is a debate that has been undertaken many, many times by Celtic fans, both young and old. This debate is still ongoing and maybe the repeal of the OBaF Act will help with the feelings of injustice that possibly lead to the “extended” songbook.
Have changes to the away ticket distribution been influenced by fan behaviour in the past?
John Paul Taylor was very clear that the model for the current scheme was based on rewarding those fans who have previously attended most matches. To date there have been no changes to the scheme. However, in future assessments of the away ticket allocation fan behaviour is a factor that will be considered in reviewing the allocation policy. Recently the Club have stated that they have had supporters contact them to state that they no longer attend away matches due to certain behaviour of some fans and the Club believes that this is a real concern.
Many right minded people would regard supporters chanting in relation to Child Abuse or Child Abusers to be particularly offensive. At Celtic Park these chants come exclusively from the Away Support – for example Aberdeen – and these fans are situated next to the Family Section. Has the club raised this as an issue with the Police when discussing the OBaF Act?
In response to this issue, Celtic made changes to the Family Section, moving it further away from the visiting supporters. The Club has contacted the authorities and has made it very clear that these songs are offensive to Celtic and their supporters. The Club has also made sure that the SPFL is also aware that these songs are an issue.
Have the Club ever provided supporter information, still images or video footage to Police Scotland under a request relating to OBaF?
John Paul Taylor said“The Club complies with the Data Protection Act. It has to be understood that, whilst the Club opposes the OBaF Act, that does not mean that the Club will accept unacceptable conduct within the support. The OBaF is currently part of the law in Scotland and the Club and all fans are bound to comply with it. The Club must always act to ensure it remains within the law to protect the good name and reputation of Celtic Football Club.”
This is also covered in detail in the response to the survey on James Kelly’s Private Members Bill where it states “Concerns have been raised with the Club by supporters regarding information being shared between the Club and Police Scotland in breach of data protection legislation. The Club confirmed its position that any information shared was in accordance with the Club’s legal obligations, but the perception was damaging for the Club. “
Although some supporters may not be entirely happy with all the responses from Celtic on OBaF, the club at least has been clear in where it stands on the Act and on the issues surrounding it especially in the way that it impacts Celtic and Celtic Supporters. There are some points mentioned here that we may want to follow up in the New Year to seek further clarification, particularly around ticket allocation and the “extended” songbook, however we would, once again, thank John Paul for getting the official responses for us.
We will take a couple of weeks off now then we’ll start pulling some information together for more Q&A’s in 2017. We would like to include a “live Q&A” with John Paul on CQN and set up a meeting with Peter Lawwell. It’s doubtful whether or not he will do a live Q&A on CQN but we’ll try to sort that.
These Q&As are intended to be a voice for CQN’ers to ask questions of the club. We understand that some on here are sceptical about the benefits of the initiative but we do believe it is working as we are getting more information this way. Certainly not as much or as clear-cut as we would like, but more than we would have had otherwise.
Sometimes the clearer information will come from what IS NOT said and we have to take that into account.
So please feel free to suggest any further topics for 2017; revisiting Res12 will definitely one, especially after this week’s reports on how the meeting promised by the club at the AGM turned out.
In the meantime, as Dena says on CQN: “play nice”!
Written by VFR800