OVER the last three weekends we have posted detailed responses from Celtic FC to questions submitted to CQN by supporters. We have discussed Resolution 12 and the same club myth, stadium and safety issues and also the proposed changes to ticketing for Celtic matches. This week we have answers from Celtic on the way in which the Scottish mainstream media treats our club and what, if anything, the club proposes to do about this disgraceful coverage…
JPT Media Questions
This week’s meeting and Question Time with John Paul Taylor was meant to be about the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, but due to events over the last week or so, the subject was changed to deal with issues regarding media coverage of Celtic.
This is an ongoing sore that causes considerable upset to the Celtic support.
The questions were sent to John Paul and he answered them as candidly as he was able to given that some topics were extremely sensitive (the reporting of child abuse, for example) and being aware of how the SMSM works, not wanting to give them any further ammunition to fire at us.
Here are this week’s CQN questions together with the responses received directly from Celtic FC…
Peter Lawwell’s last two interviews have been with The Sun and The Herald/Evening Times. Why doesn’t he speak directly to the supporters, for example, by doing an interview with Celtic Quick News?
John Paul stated that Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell meets regularly with fans and fan groups to discuss events at the Club as well as addressing fans at the AGM. There is a constant demand for such conversations and it is a case of getting the balance right; over the past 12 months John Paul has been present when Peter Lawwell has met with many fans from across the support to deal with a whole host of different issues.
However, regarding the request for an interview with CQN, John Paul will see if it is possible to get this direct interview with Peter Lawwell early in the New Year.
What influence is the media having on UEFA in their reporting on supposed trouble at Celtic matches in the Champions League? The BBC with their hamburger story seemed entirely disproportionate for example?
John Paul said that from his personal viewpoint that his honest assessment is absolutely none. He has been involved with European match organisation for over 20 years and has witnessed very closely how UEFA operates; he said: “I don’t think they are in any way influenced by local media. All of the delegates have their own views on what takes place in and around matches and report on that basis.” CQN showed him the attached image from the home game against the German Team and commented on the lack of action taken by UEFA. He responded: “I think what is extremely frustrating is the lack of consistency shown. We see events at matches going unreported and thus unpunished; this is not always the case and I think fans and clubs would like to see a greater level of consistency when it comes to reporting.”
CQN raised the issue of the Catalonian Flag being evident in the Camp Nou, seemingly with impunity. John Paul informed us that this is still an ongoing dispute between Barcelona and UEFA and has been taken to CAS. It will finally be dealt with when CAS make their ruling.
He did, however, mention that the overwhelming response from UEFA Delagates is to praise the fantastic atmosphere and support at our home games and the feedback is always positive. Another element we have to take into account is that we always have a large and noisy support at away venues and we are far more noticeable and involved than fans from most other clubs.
The recent coverage of the fan behaviour at the Manchester City game at the Etihad has been extremely negative when in fact only 14 arrests for minor offences (0.35% of the reported 4000 visiting fans) were made. Can the Club not be more proactive by issuing a Press Release commending the other 99.65% on their good behaviour to redress the balance?
John Paul was at the Etihad on Tuesday and his view was that the reporting was slightly disproportionate. He said: “The overwhelming majority of fans behaved exceptionally well, and in fact deserve credit for the tolerance and patience shown outside the stadium.” He went on to say: “I think it’s difficult to publicly thank ‘some’ fans. I think the disappointment is that we know that we have a great support; however small issues create negative stories which in turn brand the entire support and this is unfair.” When talking about this, John Paul used the example of pyros and smoke bombs: “The issue with fireworks and smoke bombs is one that the fans need to face up to. I know everyone has a view on these but whilst the Club are told that these are not allowed, then we have to accept that.” This might not be popular with all supporters but the reality is that setting off flares, smoke bombs or fireworks within a stadium will have consequences for Celtic (home, away and abroad); and sooner or later, for the fans as well.
For those who are still unsure about this, we would use the example of the firework that was thrown by someone from the Celtic support at Motherwell last week; this landed very close to a wee ball boy who was terrified by it. It could have, in fact, had greater consequences if the firework had actually hit him when it went off. Officials from the Club met with the kid after the game to make sure he was OK.
Celtic have now been charged by UEFA for crowd trouble. The SMSM projected images and stories that suggested the trouble inside the Etihad was caused solely by Celtic fans. What are the Clubs thoughts on that?
John Paul outlined that each Club has a right to reply to any charges and said that, as we know, UEFA operate a Strict Liability disciplinary process so in many respects that can have little or no bearing. He went on to say: “We do, however, always present our case to highlight what steps were taken to prevent issues arising.” As for the SMSM reporting, John Paul informed us that the Club often contact the Press to complain about, and ask for redress, over misleading articles. This is happening on a very regular basis; the Club don’t come out and provide full details on these as it could be perceived negatively if it looked like Celtic were continually fighting with the SMSM. One example recently was the misleading stories insinuating families who had suffered as a result of the Hillsborough tragedy were being directly critical of Celtic and the Standing Section in Celtic Park. These stories were retracted.
Why does Celtic maintain a relationship with Trinity Mirror on the Celtic View? Are the club aware of the strength of feeling among the support against their papers particularly The Daily Record and the Sunday Mail?
John Paul told us that relationships with the press are more often than not bound by League Guidelines and Accreditation. The Club are aware of the level of feeling against some newspaper groups by the fans. The Club feel that banning certain media groups from the Club, effectively initiating a form of censorship, is a backward step. John Paul said: “We believe the fans are capable of making their own minds up and ultimately this will be reflected in the sales figures.”
Note that John Paul is not telling us not buy these papers; but if we don’t support them, they will eventually suffer a slow death before too long!
The SMSM is consistently creating scandalous and misleading headlines naming Celtic in them. Why doesn’t the club tackle this issue by making these news channels and newspapers unwelcome at Celtic Park?
John Paul was unable to discuss some of the particular articles we pointed out in detail because some of the subject matter is in, or likely to be in, the realms of ongoing Police investigation. However, he did say that in the same vein as not initiating censorship by banning certain newspapers, the feeling was that banning individual journalist was, again, a form of censorship.
Although he didn’t come out and say so, there was a real sense that John Paul and the Club share much of the frustration that the fans feel; unfortunately, the way the SMSM work is to thinly veil innuendo and half-truths with a veneer of truth to keep just on the right side of Independent Press Standards Organisation. Recently a CQN’er complained to both the Daily Record and the IPSO regarding the recent articles linking only Celtic players and officials with the Film tax evasion stories. The IPSO responded and said that the Record hadn’t breached any guidelines because nothing they printed was inaccurate! Full detail of the complaints and the responses from the Daily Record and IPSO can be made available if anyone wants to see them.
We know, however, that the Club are still working in the background over the fact that Peter Lawwell’s home address was published.
So next week’s topic is the OBaF. It has been pointed out that some people don’t necessarily want to send info in by e-mail, so from this week you can send your questions to email@example.com or put them up on the Blog. If you are using the Blog, please be clear that you want this raised as a question by referring it to WINNING CAPTAINS, HOT SMOKED or VFR800 IS NOW A MONSTER821.
Report by VFR800 and Hot Smoked for CQN.