As I’m sure most Celtic Fans will be aware the OBFCT Bill 2011 has been used and abused by Scotland‘s Police forces up and down the country to attack Celtic supporters. Fans who are left wondering why this is the case should read a fine letter Jeanette Findlay of the Celtic Trust wrote to Christine Grahame MSP. If you read the full document, you will get an idea of our concerns about this bill not only as football supporters but as Democrats, of whatever hue. We are concerned that the act will and has been used to stop fans from airing legitimate political views at or going to and from football matches. The arguments about whether or not there is a place at a socio-politico minded football club for expressions of political opinion by supporters is not up for debate here. Nor should it be. It is not the job of parliamentarians to legislate against expressions of political opinion in any arena, sporting or otherwise. That is a matter for us and we alone as Celtic supporters. I say socio-politico minded football club because of the Club’s roots. It was founded to put food on the tables of the poor of this City, and as such it’s very founding is a political act. I know some believe that the poor of this City are not worthy of such support from anyone and should be left to rot. However, that is only a political opinion, and we wouldn’t want to stop MSPs or anyone else from expressing that view. In fact, we would welcome the refreshing honesty.

You can find all the documents to download here… http://www.celtictrust.net/index.php?func=d_home_documents …at the bottom of the page. Pay particular attention to the OBFCT Data collection form. Use this form if you have become a victim of this bill so fans groups can collect data to bin this bill in 2014.

I’m going to quote the letter in full here anyway…

14 Sept 2012

Dear Ms Grahame,
I am writing to you regarding comments you made during the evidence session at the Justice Committee yesterday (13/9/11) and to seek clarification of those remarks.
During an exchange between you and Professor Tom Devine (which can be found at between 2hrs and 1minute and 2hrs and 6 minutes in the video recording) you question statistics provided by Professor Devine to the effect that Catholics are twice as likely to be the victims of sectarian aggravated assault. I think you are also arguing against his point that the existing legislation is sufficient.
You say that Professor Devine cannot use the statistics to uphold his assertion re the disproportionate number of Catholic victims of religious aggravated offences under the 2003 legislation because the existing legislation is more likely to lead to convictions of ‘Rangers fans’ and that it is not ‘even’ because ‘Celtic fans’ won’t be convicted of any offence because they are singing political songs. Professor Devine is clear that he is talking about Catholics and Protestants but you appear to interpret this as proxies for Celtic and Rangers supporters respectively.
Notwithstanding this point, there is a clear implication in this statement that there is something missing in the 2003 legislation because it does not appear to result in the same
number of convictions of Celtic supporters. Indeed you say at one point with reference to the 2003 legislation that it is ‘not even’. You appear not to consider the possibility that the reason more Rangers fans have been convicted under the 2003 Act (which is not what Professor Devine said but is nonetheless true) is because they, in large number, have sung bigoted and racist songs and Celtic fans (en masse) haven’t and don’t. To be blunt, you appear to suggest that there is something wrong with legislation that does not result in parity of numbers of arrests between Celtic supporter and Rangers supporters, ignoring, for the moment, any discussion of offensive behaviour by supporters of other teams. A number of our members as well as other Celtic supporters have concerns about the motivation for this Bill and the lack of clarity surrounding the definitions of offensive behaviour. Your comments have added to these concerns. I write to you today to ask you to reassure the public that this Bill is not, in whole or in part, motivated by a desire to see Celtic fans convicted in equal number to Rangers fans for offences specified precisely with that aim in mind.
I repeat my evidence to the Committee last week, Celtic fans do not, en masse, sing songs of hate against anyone. The only alleged ‘offensiveness’ that critics of the Celtic support are able to bring up is the singing of Republican songs. These songs, in and of themselves, are not aimed at Protestants or of adherents of any other religion, they are political in nature and, as such, the outlawing of them is potentially a breach of the right to freedom of expression. Such an unwarranted restriction of freedom of speech would, I am sure, be resisted not only by Celtic fans but by all democrats. I would add that the appropriateness of such songs being sung at a football match is an entirely separate question for Celtic supporters alone and one which does not involve any question of legality, nor does it require the scrutiny of the Parliament.
It would be unfortunate indeed if the public were left with the impression that the intention of the drafters of this Bill is to ensure that Scotland can ignore its anti-Catholic and anti-Irish problem by engineering parity of convictions between Celtic supporters and others and thereby rely on the dishonest ‘plague on both your houses’ approach which we have seen all to often.
I look forward to your reply.
Yours sincerely
Jeanette Findlay
Chair

I think that gives a fair enough although brief background to the issue. So far, I’m not aware of any reply from Ms Grahame. I will endeavour to find out and add it on to this post…

There’s nothing wrong with constructive criticism. Nothing at all. And Managers should be able to take it and they should be able to answer it. Lennon’s quoted in BBC Sport like this,

Lennon was barracked by some Celtic supporters near the dug-out during the match.
“I understand supporters’ frustrations,” he said. “If they’re not happy with me and want me to go, I’ll go, simple as that.”
The Celtic manager described his side’s recent home form as “unacceptable” but said he was vexed by some of the criticism.
“The lack of patience shown by some people baffles me at times,” he added.

Obviously, in the heat of the moment, both fans and Lennon can say things that can seem beyond robust, but given a few hours to cool down, I think we can all appreciate the the magnitude of Lennon’s job at the moment. He’s a victim of his and the team’s own success. Ironically, if Celtic were out on our arse, by now, in Europe, there wouldn’t be as much passion and expectation from us fans and we would probably have taken defeat by Inverness CT on the chin. Let’s not forget, we are still top of the League and if anyone thought that results like this would go away with Rangers, they are deluding themselves. Other teams are going to step up to the plate and give everything they have against Celtic. They only have to raise their games 3 or 4 times a year now instead of 6 or 8. Every game Celtic play, we are going to have to just live with that fact and simply overcome it. That’s what we are doing. What we must not do is spit the dummy out and shout abuse at Lennon when he is clearly feeling it too. I should also add that I believe he does understand that fans are frustrated at these times — it’s what sport’s all about after all — but he shouldn’t take it personal when, in the heat of the moment, fans give him verbal. He should leave the ultimatums out. He knows fans don’t want him to go. It’s bad for the team and supporters’ morale if people take things personally and ultimatums like the one quoted are given.

It’s in all our interests to continue to back the whole team, Lennon and all, and drive on for unprecedented success. Some fans might argue that the backing the fans have given him in the past is proof enough that they back him but it was hardly difficult to do, given the circumstances. Let’s just put it behind us and move on. Like adults.

With the match against Hearts now about to kick off in under an hour, I’m feeling confident we will take this opportunity to quickly put our recent SPL form to bed and get back to winning ways…

I have lost count of the times the great unwashed have given rise to decent footy supporters supporting Celtic players and managers. Now even fellow supporters have become the victim of the great unwashed. Nothing new there right enough. I’ve lost count of the times when people have been attacked and even murdered in this institutionalised and establishment racist land of ours. Namely Alba – Scotland to the great unwashed.

Now they have sent pipe bombs to Neil Lennon, Trish Godman, and Paul McBride. Paul could wipe the floor with Donald Finley and I bet these Neanderthals would do good to enlist the services of Paul when and if they ever get brought before a court. There’s no doubt that they are Scottish and have had instructions on how to make the pipe bombs. They couldn’t even construct them properly as they were described by Strathclyde’s finest as “crude devices”. If the devices were sent from the six counties, although they wouldn’t have done any harm, they were just meant to be frighteners in an attempt to intimidate the recipients, they would not have been described as crude. They were described as “viable” so the instructions on how to assemble them have most likely come from Loyalist Paramilitaries.

Obviously the Celtic fans have shown that they are an exceptional band of family. Special mention must go to the Green Brigade as it is them that organise these shows of support. It’s a pity that the Celtic board don’t appreciate them for what they are. The Press too have to take their share of the blame over this. The Daily Express ran a story with absolutely no evidence to back it up. They told us that the Real IRA were using Celtic games as cover to recruit members in Scotland. Absolute bollox. The IRA of any hue would never undertake such an operation. They simply can’t trust British based members to keep their mouth shut. To be fair, they will recruit members for the 32CSM and the Contos have had a branch for some time in Glasgow. But there is no way they would involve them in military operations. On top of the that the Express put a picture of the Green Brigade banner being held by Celtic fans in a football ground in an obvious attempt to link the Green Brigade with the story. Nothing could be further from the truth. If the Daily Express has evidence for their story then let them show it. It is no coincidence that the pipe bomb attempt came only a matter of just over a week after the Express ran the story. So the Daily Express has colluded with criminals in attempt to harm decent Celtic personnel and prominent fans. They should hang themselves in shame and issue a public apology. We won’t hold our breath. But the rag, editor and reporter have opened themselves up to similar attacks.

Personally, I hope the attack hits its targets.