PETER Lawwell has accused the fans who incurred a Uefa fine of £12,700 on Celtic for pro-IRA chants of damaging the club’s reputation in Europe and has pledged to maintain a robust campaign to drive the offenders out.
The Celtic chief executive spoke out as his club announced they would not be lodging an appeal against the punishment, imposed by Uefa’s Control and Disciplinary Body for “illicit chanting” during the 3-1 Europa League Group I win against French side Rennes at Parkhead on 3 November.
After the decision was announced by Uefa on Monday, Celtic initially issued only a brief statement to say they had received no detailed written judgement from European football’s governing body and that they were considering their position.
Celtic were entitled to lodge a protest with the Uefa Appeals Body within three days of receiving the written judgment.
But the club decided to accept the fine, with Lawwell stressing that the implications of the sanction cannot be taken lightly.
And Lawwell said: “The heavy fine imposed by Uefa is an indication of the seriousness with which it treats such matters.
“We would re-iterate our own position that, however small a minority is involved, such chanting is not welcome at Celtic Football Club.
“Clearly, it is very disappointing and a source of real regret amongst our supporters that Celtic’s proud history of exemplary conduct has been tarnished in this way by such a tiny minority.
“However, this is a clear warning that such behaviour will not be tolerated and, together, Celtic Football Club and our supporters will do all we can to ensure that this incident is not repeated.
“We would like to thank our supporters for their magnificent conduct since the match against Rennes. We are proud of the fantastic and positive reputation we have established across Europe over many years, and the club and our fans will be doing all we can to ensure that this is protected.”
Celtic supporters travelling to Italy for tomorrow’s Europa League match against Udinese will come under close scrutiny in the wake of the Uefa judgment.
As it stands, the final Group I fixture is one Celtic must win in order to qualify for the knockout phase of the competition. But that scenario could yet be altered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne when they publish their judgment on Sion’s expulsion from the Europa League.
CAS yesterday announced that they have closed proceedings on the Swiss club’s case against Uefa, who threw them out of the Europa League for fielding ineligible players during their play-off round victory over Celtic.
A three-man panel of Swiss lawyers, chaired by Edinburgh University-educated Zurich advocate Hans Nater, will deliver the CAS decision on or before 23 December. If they find in Sion’s favour, Uefa have already drawn up provisional plans to re-integrate the club into the Europa League, which could involve Celtic having to play two more matches against them.
Other possibilities in the event of Sion winning the case include the whole of Group I being replayed as a five-team section, or allowing the Swiss side potential passage to the last 32 by way of a play-off tie.