Scottish Premiership football club Celtic has opted to close the ‘Green Brigade’ safe-standing section of its stadium for two matches for what it has deemed “unsafe behaviour” during recent games at Celtic Park.
The club said in a statement that it would be writing to the 900 season ticket-holders affected by the closure.
The decision has been taken after “serious safety concerns” arose during last Wednesday’s Champions League match against Linfield, and Celtic’s final home game of the 2016-17 season against Hearts back in May.
The safe-standing area of Celtic Park features rail seating, allowing fans to remain stood for the duration of the game. The club said the initiative “had been working very well until the final game of last season”.
Celtic said that flares had been smuggled into the stadium for the match, before being set off underneath banners in the Green Brigade area of the ground.
The club’s statement added: “The club understands that consideration was given to halting this crucial game because of the thick smoke, which was blowing across the stadium and into other sections of the support and posed a serious safety risk to all those in the stadium. The fire alarm was activated, resulting in the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service responding to the stadium.
“The Safety Advisory Group of Glasgow City Council, which licenses Celtic Park and comprises representatives from the Council, police, fire and rescue, the ambulance service and other statutory authorities, had an emergency meeting after that game and communicated their serious concerns to the club, which presented a risk to the renewal of the safety certificate necessary for the operation of the stadium and the capacity of the safe standing area.
“The club has been working with the Safety Advisory Group towards a solution for this season, but the events at the match on Wednesday night, where there were further serious safety issues within the Green Brigade section, require the club to take immediate action to comply with its responsibilities under the applicable legislation.”
There have been repeated calls for safe standing to be introduced at English football grounds in recent years. Following the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster, a ban was issued on standing at stadia in the top two tiers of English football. No such ban applies in Scotland.
Image: Jon Darch