After what was a dramatic evening for Statement releases , something we are more used to seeing from the other side of the city, Celtic Director Ian Livingston decided it was time for him to clarify his position and he did so on the Affiliation’s website in their comments section.
After a very heated Friday, both at the AGM and afterwards, matters were put aside as Celtic had a match to play. That proved to be a bit of a non-event with Celtic maintaining the advantage at the top of the league after the 0-0 draw with Kilmarnock. Neither Hearts or Aberdeen could take advantage as both also dropped two points in their matches with Dundee and Hamilton.
Sunday morning started well with Aberdeen supporters, on their first trip to the West of Scotland since the Court of Session decision in favour of HMRC in the Big Tax Case, took a detour to Hampden to demonstrate against the SFA’s handling of the Rangers cheating scandal.
If we thought that these images from Hampden would make the back pages we weren’t prepared for what came next.
It started with a joint statement from The Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters’ Clubs, The Celtic Trust and The Green Brigade which said this:
‘Following the disgraceful remarks made by Ian Bankier, Chairman of Celtic PLC to the Celtic PLC AGM on Friday 20th November, the undersigned organisations feel it necessary to express our anger at these allegations.
‘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.
‘We would like to publically condemn his unprofessional behaviour and the subsequent attempts to suggest that his words had been taken out of context, as this patently was not the case.
‘We call on all other members of the PLC board to denounce these comments.
‘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.’
Celtic also used their website to respond and the club had this to say in response shortly afterwards:
‘CELTIC Football Club has released the following statement following a call from the Celtic Trust asking for Celtic chairman Ian Bankier to consider his position.
‘Ian made his position absolutely clear on Friday when he thanked, praised and commended Celtic supporters and shareholders and clarified that he had not branded our supporters as some had suggested.
‘Ian was simply referring to those individuals that the Trust in their statement have also condemned, so we seem to be in agreement.
‘We are surprised and disappointed that a public statement has been made without any dialogue on the matter with the club but, as always, we will be happy to meet any of our fans groups to discuss.’
And when the online Celtic community spend their Sunday evening’s taking all of this in and debating on forums like CQN and elsewhere, Ian Livingston, the Celtic Director and Conservative Peer who voted with the Government in the House of Lords last month on the tax credits issue, decided he should have his say and posted this on the Affiliation site:
‘I hope you don’t mind me posting this. As the person about whom a number of abusive comments were made, I thought you may be interested in a couple of the racist ones so you can perhaps see why the Chairman was upset about them.
“Michael Higgins: Get this Ashkenazi *** out of OUR club and take that other fake jew prick Biton with him. This is typical of their sort, infiltrating and destroying every country and establisment from within”
‘someone under the name Ross Grant saying “He’s a Jew what do you expect”
‘…many others were simply abusive. Not I assume anything to do with my religion rather because I had a different political view. Actually I wasn’t in agreement with the nature of the tax credit cuts but believed that this motion was not something the unelected House of Lords should do, so voted against it. No doubt some will disagree but you might consider the nature of expressing your view and whether abuse is also in line with your view of Celtic’s ethos.
‘I have always believed Celtic fans are the best in the world and a few racist postings of social media will not change that as I know the overwhelming of fans whichever party the vote for would codemn them equally.’
This is all going to take some sorting out.
CQN’s brilliant follow-up to Caesar & The Assassin is called THE WINDS OF CHANGE Managing Celtic FC, 1991-2005 and is available now for worldwide shipping HERE or click on the image below to order. All copies ordered over the weekend have now been posted to addresses all over the GB and Ireland as well as to New Zealand, Canada, Australia and Japan.