RONNY DEILA has backed Hearts owner Ann Budge’s call to ensure Scottish football nurtures a family-friendly environment at its stadia.
The Celtic manager was responding to Budge’s condemnation of some supporters’ conduct at last Sunday’s Scottish Cup tie at Tynecastle during which seven arrests were made by Police Scotland for drunken-ness, assault and sectarian abuse.
In her powerful statement, Budge revealed she had received communication from parents of children who were “terrified” and “traumatised” during the game and would be “unlikely ever to want to return”.
Celtic are co-operating with Hearts in addressing the issues to arise from the tie and Deila believes it is crucial to avoid fixtures between the clubs becoming a no-go area for younger fans. “The most important things is you have to come to the stadium and feel safe,” said Deila. “The day you can’t do that then football is not fun anymore.
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“I had been to some matches in Scotland before I became the manager of Celtic and I don’t understand what the fans are singing. I don’t know what they are about. But it has to be that every family can go, so you feel you can take your kids into the stands without them being afraid. It’s only football. We need to do it because of the kids, so it needs to be a good occasion.”
Celtic’s 4-0 win on Sunday was Deila’s first experience of Tynecastle, where his predecessor Neil Lennon was physically attacked by a home supporter in 2011. But, despite his sympathy with Budge’s statement in respect of the young fans, the Norwegian gave his stamp of approval to the overall Gorgie experience. “That’s what we want,” added Deila. “That’s why I came here – to have those kind of games, to come to a stadium like that and feel the pressure. It’s great when you feel an unbelievable atmosphere like there was at Tynecastle.”
Deila also endorsed the right of his player Anthony Stokes to have his say. The striker tweeted: “maybe she should worry about her own fans, never had so many sectarian comments directed at me in a ground like Tynecastle the other day”. Deila said: “It is a democracy and players have their opinions and right to speak. If I was one of the players, I wouldn’t do it. But those are the players’ opinions rather than the club’s opinions.”
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