No fine for Celtic over 'H block' banner

Published Tuesday, 04 February 2014
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Celtic have escaped punishment over an "offensive" banner displayed at Parkhead, the Scottish Professional Football League has confirmed.

No fine for Celtic over 'H block' banner
Celtic Park, where the offensive banner was displayed. (© Getty)

The SPFL launched an investigation after fans held aloft a large 'H' symbol - representing the Maze Prison block near Lisburn where 10 Irish Republicans died on hunger strike in 1981 - alongside lyrics derived from Flower of Scotland, "they fought and died for their wee bit hill and glen".

The display came during Celtic's Scottish Premiership fixture against Aberdeen on 23 November.

A spokesman for the league said: "The SPFL has concluded its investigation into the appearance of a large 'H' banner on 23 November 2013 during Celtic's home match against Aberdeen.

"SPFL regulations forbid 'words or conduct or displaying any writing or other thing which indicates support for, or affiliation to, or celebration of, or opposition to an organisation or group proscribed in terms of the Terrorism Act 2000'.

"The SPFL found that the banner was offensive and breached the SPFL's rules. However, Celtic FC were able to demonstrate that they had taken all reasonably practicable steps to prevent the banner being displayed at Celtic Park.

"As a result, it was determined that there was no evidence of any breach of the SPFL's rules by Celtic FC."

The statement continued: "The SPFL wishes to reiterate, for the avoidance of doubt, that any banners indicating support for, or affiliation to, or celebration of, or opposition to an organisation or group proscribed in terms of the Terrorism Act 2000 or are otherwise offensive, are not welcome at SPFL grounds."

Celtic were fined about £42K by UEFA over a similar display during their Champions League clash with AC Milan four days later, after the European governing body decided the "illicit banner", including images of hunger striker Bobby Sands and Scottish nationalist icon William Wallace, broke their rules.

Celtic demanded fans leave their political views at home after UEFA announced the disciplinary action.

The supporters' group responsible for the banners, the Green Brigade, later defended the displays and insisted they were football-related as they were designed to protest against the Scottish Government's Offensive Behaviour at Football Act and Police Scotland's implementation of the legislation, which it claims has criminalised expressions of Irish politics.

© UTV News
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8 Comments
Sam1690 in Ballysillan wrote (195 days ago):
Holding up a reference to a proscribed organisation = no punishment, I thought there was new anti-sectarianism laws in Scotland. Should Ceptic not face corporate chargers for facilitating this?
andy in East Belfast wrote (198 days ago):
Scotland' shame once again.Lost count of how many times this lot have dfragged their club through the gutter this season. Of course, its never their fault....
Outer Mongolia in New York wrote (198 days ago):
Sure everyone knew they would'nt get punished for thier display of childish immature behaviour
Joe in Down wrote (198 days ago):
@rab with rangers it was the club that was up for wrongdoing, with Celtic it was a section of fans only.
damian in derry city wrote (198 days ago):
whose offended by a letter and the words of a national anthem?
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