Reid refers 'racist' Rangers song to police

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The Independent Online

Celtic chairman John Reid used today's annual general meeting to once again condemn the singing of the 'Famine Song' by Rangers fans and said it was up to the police to take action.

Addressing shareholders at Parkhead, Reid branded the song "vile, vicious and racist", while urging the authorities to take the necessary action against those who continue to indulge in offensive chanting at football matches.

The Famine Song - sung to the tune of the Beach Boys' hit Sloop John B - is aimed at Celtic fans who claim Irish heritage and includes the line "The famine's over why don't you go home?" in reference to the famine in Ireland during the 1840s.

But Reid also appealed to Celtic fans to practice what they preach by using self-policing to eradicate what he described as "the tiny minority" who still bring shame upon their own club.

"The police have a very difficult task in all respects, not just footballing," Reid told a media conference after the AGM.

"And I don't think anybody should be giving operational directions to the police about the judgements they make.

"There is offensive chanting and singing going on and our position on that is quite plain.

"We believe that some of that is very offensive and I would encourage anyone who hasn't read the song, however distasteful it is, to read it and see that we are not over-reacting to it.

"It's up to others now. If this transgresses the law, it's up to others to take the necessary action whenever they can. It's not for us to carry that forward."

Celtic have worked hard to eradicate offensive behaviour within their own support and their efforts were recognised with the Uefa Fair Play Award following the Uefa Cup final five years ago.

Reid now believes "peer pressure" is the best way to deal with the small minority who continue to tarnish the club's reputation.

He said: "The vast majority of our fans are not only conducting themselves in a way that is acceptable to the club and football authorities, but in a way which is lauded and congratulated by the football authorities.

"They [the fans] have the right to say to the tiny minority, particularly at away games, who are blemishing that image, 'Don't do this - that's not the Celtic way of doing things'.

"However much you police these events, however willing we are to take action - as we have done at Celtic Park - the best way to do these things is through peer pressure.

"It's a more effective way of doing it because it's not a scripture handed from on high, it's your fellow fans saying to you, 'Enough is enough'."

Reid added: "Celtic, in its name and its origins, was about the unity of different people from different backgrounds.

"That's why the name Celtic was chosen - a name which didn't divide but which united the Scots and the Irish initially. That leads on in the modern world to being a more inclusive form.

"We've got to practice what we preach and that's why I'm glad this has come from the fans themselves."

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