BOTH POLICE SCOTLAND and Celtic FC were asked some serious questions after the crush in the Janefield Street Tunnel under the North Stand at Celtic Park on 2 September 2018 in the match against the Rangers – and we’re till waiting for answers.
This game was the first where the capacity of the away support was reduced from around 8000 to just 1800. It seems that the Police wit our without the knowledge of our club, decided to grant the away support the same access as in previous games and in doing so diverted many thousands of Celtic fans through this tight tunnel behind and underneath the North Stand.
And inside the tunnel as the crushing increased there were no Police officers visible at all and the ones at the corner of the Jock Stein stand seemed to be passive and disinterested in the unfolding incident.
Not since Nottingham Forest away in the mid 1980s has there been a major crushing scare like this for the Celtic support.
Yesterday the Police released a squirrel of a report which completely failed to address the situation that they and the club allowed to develop that lunchtime last September that could have resulted in another football disaster.
Anyone who was caught up in that crush – and I was – will be concerned that with only 3 weeks until the Rangers pitch up at Celtic Park again – we have yet to hear from Celtic (who commissioned an independent report) and all we got from Police Scotland yesterday was deflection and irrelevance – what has scaffolding issues in the lower leagues when Rangers were ‘relegated’ got to do with the Janefield Street crush?
Celtic since the crush happened have been using some tape to separate fans going in different directions and to section off access points for the various turnstiles. That in itself misses the point, the crush was caused because the Police denied supporters their usual access points to the ground – something they did NOT do at Ibrox to the home support on 29 December – and in doing so forced many thousands of supporters who would not normally use the Janefield Street tunnel to do so.
So this is an issue surrounding the games at Celtic Park against the Rangers and an alternative plan needs to be employed and we need to know what changes have been made from the dangerous operational plan from September 2018.
Yesterday’s Police report does not address the specific problem of the way in which the Police are managing 1800 Rangers supporters coming into and leaving Celtic Park and the implications that this has for the Celtic support which is now bigger than it usually is for these Glasgow Derby games.
Are we really going to be put in a position by Celtic of having to turn up for the forthcoming game against the Rangers with no explanation about what happened back in September, why it happened and what the club and the Police are going to do to make sure there is no repeat?
Are Celtic simply going to rely on the stewards shouting at fans to keep to the right as they move through the Janefield Street tunnel?
If the Police plans are exactly the same and Celtic’s solution as described above, then that is entirely unacceptable. And in those circumstances our advice would be to make sure that you are inside the ground an hour before kick-off.
This all happened because the Rangers decided to reduce the Celtic allocation at Ibrox and Celtic responded in kind. Putting aside the arguments surrounding that for another day, the key point is that under the tried and tested formulas for these games at Celtic Park and Ibrox the Police had plans that worked and that they were familiar with.
They also had a tried and tested plan for Ibrox that got the Celtic support in and out and did not disrupt the usual access points to the stadium for the home support.
However On 2 September 2018 the Police were faced with an entirely different dynamic and they failed to properly consider the consequences of their decision to send many thousands of additional Celtic supporters through the long, tight tunnel to get to their seats. It was a recipe for disaster and it was only avoided by the patience and common sense shown by the Celtic support that day.
To get to our own seats in the Upper North Stand we had to ‘tell’ a steward to allow us access to the lower North Stand, find a lift that took us to the corporate area, being met by a steward who wanted to know why we were there, move him out of the way before progressing through a door to the upper stand stairway and then onto our seats.
Here’s our report from the day the crush happened.
There’s a FAC video that the Green Brigade posted on You Tube last night. It’s around 15 minutes long but it’s something that you should watch. Celtic supporters talking about what happened that day….
Hopefully we’ll hear from Celtic soon on this matter. Time is running out.
— Green Brigade (@Green_Brigade06) March 6, 2019