Celtic chairman Ian Bankier described some of his club’s fans’ online treatment of fellow director Lord Ian Livingston as “criminally racist” at the club’s annual general meeting.
Livingston, a Conservative peer and former minister for trade and investment, recently voted in favour of the UK Government’s tax credit cuts policy in the House of Lords, which prompted a section of the Celtic support to start an online petition calling for his removal. Almost 10,000 have signed it but the proposal to re-elect him is likely to be carried when the votes are counted.
One shareholder was given a rousing round of applause when he claimed Livingston’s “role in society is contrary to the ethos of the club”.
Bankier rounded on some of Glasgow-born Livingston’s critics but his speech was met with calls of “shame” from some in the hall at Celtic Park.
Bankier claimed the former BT Group chief executive - whose full title is Lord Livingston of Parkhead - had been “subject to a torrent of utterly base personal abuse conducted over social media over recent weeks”.
“The messages posted, in quite a few cases are criminally racist and in all cases the vocabulary chosen is base and highly abusive,” the Celtic chairman added.
“And what sickens me to the core is that the campaign is conducted in the name of (Celtic founder) Brother Walfrid.
“Ian Livingston is a consummately able business executive. We are grateful that he is prepared to devote his time and considerable talents to the affairs of this club.
“The fact that he also happens to be a member of the House of Lords creates no conflict of interest with the business of Celtic.
“We are a football club. We play football - and we are good at it.
“Our fans come from every quarter of society and share the common bond of supporting the team.
“We are not a conduit for political statements and campaigns. No fan or section of fans has the right to set up a stall that proclaims political intolerance in the name of what they invariably cite as their club.
“Our club is not available to anyone for that purpose.
“I condemn this activity and appeal to you to see it for what it is because intolerance soon leads to hatred and hatred leads to a lot worse as we well know.”