AS CELTIC prepare for their final Champions League match of the season in Barcelona on Wednesday, they are also waiting to learn what action will be taken against them over the actions of a number of their supporters at Motherwell on Friday night.
The Scottish Professional Football League will decide on any punishment when it receives its match delegate’s report into events at Fir Park, where seats were damaged and smoke bombs and a flare were thrown. Under an SPFL agreement, the Parkhead club will pay for the damage, but the league can issue further sanctions.
The flare was let off in the away end before the start of the league match, which ended in a 5-0 win for the champions. Two smoke bombs were thrown into Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster’s goalmouth, and another object was thrown just after Kris Commons had opened the scoring. When the crowd dispersed after the match it became apparent that some seats had also been damaged, at an estimated cost of £10,000.
The damage was in the middle lower area of Motherwell’s South Stand, close to where a Green Brigade banner was on show. Yesterday the group of Celtic supporters issued a statement denying their members had been responsible but accepting that they could have done more to prevent it.
“Firstly we do not condone the breaking of seats nor do we welcome pyrotechnics being thrown on the park,” the statement read. “We as a group are as disappointed as any about such indefensible behaviour.
“Whilst it was not members of our group behaving in this manner, we accept the fact that these actions took place behind our banner in what was an unofficial ‘Green Brigade section’ and furthermore that the fans within this area are associated to our group whether they are members or not. It is particularly disappointing given how hard we have worked as a member organisation of Fans Against Criminalisation and of our own accord to fight the criminalisation of football supporters as we realise the damage that the events of Friday night could have on our efforts.
“Ultimately, we should have had greater control of the bodies present within our block…and we will strive to ensure that such scenes are not repeated.”
Celtic issued a statement on Saturday condemning the damage and other actions.
“Clearly, we are appalled by the scenes from last night’s match and the actions of a small minority which have again tarnished the great reputation of the club and our supporters on a night when our team produced such a fantastic performance,” the statement read. “We are currently investigating these events and will update our supporters early next week.”
A Police Scotland spokesman added: “Significant damage was caused to seats within the ground and we are looking into this matter along with the club. There were no arrests made inside the ground.” Police Scotland counted 18 smoke bombs, three fireworks and a flare.
The main organisation of Celtic fans, the Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters Clubs pointed out that such behaviour would hinder negotiations to get better conditions for fans.
“We should be discussing another devastating Celtic performance on the pitch,” the Association said. “Instead we are talking about disappointments off the field. Incidents like [Friday] night at Fir Park and the publicity that this attracts make negotiations regarding ticket pricing, safe standing and policing at games more difficult. Any payment for damage and fines that are the responsibility of the club are ultimately paid by us. This is a measurable cost. The damage to our reputation as a support is unquantifiable.”