Celtic says hundreds of its members located in its safe standing area are to be banned for the next two games “amid serious safety concerns”.
The club is writing to the 900 season-ticket holders affected to explain the decision and “next steps”.
Those affected will be banned for next Wednesday’s Champions League qualifier against Rosenborg and against Hearts on the opening day of the Premiership season.
“The safe standing area of the stadium had been working very well until the final game of last season against Hearts, when large numbers of flares were smuggled into and set off under banners within the Green Brigade section,” Celtic said.
“It was an incredibly irresponsible and co-ordinated action which could have had tragic consequences.
“Safety of all supporters at Celtic Park is of paramount importance to the club.
“The safe operation of the safe standing area at Celtic Park requires effective communication and engagement with the supporters in that area.
“Unfortunately, due to the events at the Hearts and Linfield matches, the club is not satisfied that the Green Brigade section can be operated safely at this time.”
Meanwhile, Liverpool fans are to this week vote on the introduction of rail seating in football stadiums.
Supporters of the club affected by the Hillsborough Tragedy of 1989, in which 96 fans were killed, have been among the most vocal in their opposition to the return of standing in English football. All clubs in the top two tiers of English football are currently barred from allowing standing at games.
However, many fans and clubs favour allowing standing, and momentum has grown since Celtic’s introduction of rail seating.
After a meeting the Spirit of Shankly (SOS) supporters’ union, it was decided that a poll would be taken of members and Liverpool fans, with the result to be announced on Monday, July 31.
Representatives from the FSF, the Sports Ground Safety Authority and Celtic, who along with all Scottish clubs are not bound by the 1989 Football Spectators Act that followed Lord Justice Taylor’s report into the Hillsborough disaster and introduced all-seater legislation, all spoke at the meeting, The Guardian reports.
The Hillsborough Family Support Group reiterated their opposition to rail seating following a recent vote among the families. The Hillsborough Justice Campaign said it does not hold a position on safe seating but welcomes “an open, fair and frank discussion on the subject with safety at the heart of any discussions.”
Sara Williams, daughter of the late and relentless Hillsborough campaigner Anne Williams, who lost her son Kevin in 1989, said: “My mum always felt safe standing should be allowed at football matches and so do I. We have known the truth about Hillsborough for years and years and now the whole world does. It was not standing itself which killed our Kev and 95 angels with him, it was a catalogue of serious failings by police, the ambulance service, the Football Association and many others.”
Another attendee, Damian Kavanagh, said: “This is uniquely complicated for us. We should be full, front and centre of the debate because we lived with Hillsborough.”
IMAGE: Jon Darch