Dunfermline Athletic

Follow up to Celtic programme article

Author: Bill Kinnear Date: Monday, 11th Aug 2003

Due to some lazy journalism, one comment was taken completely out of context and used as a propaganda tool against DAFC. Here is the reasoning behind the article.....

I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to all of the decent and upstanding Celtic fans, among whom I have many friends, who appear, according to certain press reports, to have been offended by my article Beyond the Great Divide in the Dunfermline Athletic Football Club match day programme last Saturday. I should say that these press reports refer only to one small part of one paragraph in the whole article and have, in my opinion been taken out of context.

In my own defence I do consider that the whole affair has in fact been taken out of context by news-hungry journalists who are keen to twist the written word, and indeed the spoken word, in order to sell newspapers. It would appear that little or no cognisance is given to the impact upon individuals and organisations. C’est la vie I suppose.

Those of you who are regular readers of the award-winning DAFC programme will know that for the last season or so my column has been entitled Beyond the Great Divide. I have explained on numerous occasions that the ‘Great Divide’ that I refer to is that which exists between Scotland’s two biggest clubs, Celtic and Rangers, and that despite efforts to have us believe the contrary in the sports news and television media, there is life in Scottish football beyond these two footballing monoliths.

I have also advocated on countless occasions that Scottish football would not suffer if Celtic and Rangers left Scotland for the Barclaycard Premiership, Atlantic League or any other confederation or association of football clubs. Quite the opposite in fact. I have argued for and supported other like-minded individuals and groups who believe that things would be much more equitable and the playing field more level if they were not around.

Any one of a number of clubs would have a chance to win the EssPeeEll, not just two as we have at present. I believe that as a consequence crowds would increase because we wouldn’t be starting each season with the knowledge that the best we could do is finish third in the league or be runners-up in a cup final.

I also believe that with bigger match day and television audiences and greater interest, sponsorship would increase and clubs would still be able to attract decent players. It would probably not mean that Celtic and Rangers would stop buying the best players in Scotland but it might mean that clubs would be less inclined to let players go for some of the paltry figures we have seen in the past.

Everyone knows that there are certain sections at all football clubs who could at worst be described as unsavoury and at best a nuisance, but what they have at Celtic and Rangers are some so-called supporters who have a different agenda. They have an agenda of sectarianism and bigotry and more often than not if you’re not with them, then you’re automatically against them.

These groups, who may well be in the minority, import an atmosphere of poison and hatred and display it for all to see wherever they go. I do not for one minute consider that this is acceptable to anyone or that they would be a loss to Scottish football and real football fans.

I openly supported our Chairman, John Yorkston, when he and his other nine colleague Chairmen gave notice of their intention to resign from the EssPeeEll last year. If Dermot Desmond believes that Celtic and Rangers worth to the Barclaycard Premiership is in the region of£100 million then I believe that money talks and they will leave the Scottish league structure eventually. As I have said before I will not be sad to see them go.

And that my friends is the context of the comments I made in the programme last Saturday, not that I wanted Celtic fans to be ripped up but to make the point that I do not want these bigots in our stadium.

I do not want people in our stadium who make death threats to players or that support the notion publicly stated by one of their own players that fellow professionals cheated to allow another team to gain an advantage.

I do not want people in our stadium who make nazi salutes and hand out fascist literature as they sing songs of bigotry and loathing of others.

I would suggest that this is the type of behaviour that we wish to see eradicated form our stadia and indeed our communities.

That said, at this point I would like to comment that I and others warmly appreciate the behaviour of the majority of Celtic fans who applauded Derek Stillie as he took his place in goal at the away end on Saturday and who, along with every Pars fan, gave Jim Leishman such a generous and tumultuous welcome home.

Those of you who know me well will attest to my principles and beliefs of fairness and equality and of my intense dislike for bigotry and intolerance of others.

My position about Celtic and Rangers is not personal but based firmly upon those personal values and a belief that it would be better for everyone, particularly in an economic sense if they left then EssPeeEll.

So, again I apologise to those decent Celtic football supporters for my comments and for any offence they caused. I am however equally disappointed by the way they have been manipulated by the press for their own agenda.

Enjoy yer fitba!



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