Celtic to keep Aleksandar Tonev for rest of season

Tonev is to resume a seven game ban for racial abuse. Picture: SNS

Tonev is to resume a seven game ban for racial abuse. Picture: SNS

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CELTIC have decided that they will keep Aleksandar Tonev for the rest of the season, rather than sending the player back to Aston Villa in the wake of his ban for racial abuse.

The Bulgarian midfielder is on a season-long loan at the Scottish champions but manager Ronny Deila insisted yesterday that there is no reason to jettison Tonev after he was given a seven-match suspension for abusing Aberdeen’s Shay Logan.

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With Tonev unable to play for Celtic until 24 January against Ross County, it was felt that the club might cut their losses with someone who has been a marginal figure under Deila, yet the manager wants to retain Tonev, although the club have ruled out going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland to appeal last Thursday’s SFA ruling.

“Aleks is going to stay,” said Deila. “We have not talked to them (Aston Villa). Not me anyway. I don’t know if Peter (Lawwell) has.

“ If he had gone in January we would still believe him. He has improved in the last two matches and we have him for the season and that’s what we want him do.

“We are disappointed (with the SFA decision). It’s nothing new, it’s word against word. I don’t say anyone is lying. I just said we need more proof. It’s a hard and harsh decision to take, to say someone is a racist. It’s just in a word, that’s why we support him and believe him.

“Aleks will be given some days off to go to Bulgaria for Christmas and then he’ll be back on 29 December to start training. It’s no problem to keep him for me.”

Deila accepts Tonev will have to live with the stigma of the affair, regardless of his claim of being innocent. “He had a statement and that was good,” said Deila. “He said what he believes in and what he meant is the truth but he he’ll have to move on.”

So too will Celtic, with Deila accepting the matter is finished, with CAS no longer on the agenda.

“We know there is nothing next,” said Deila. “We just have to cope with it and go on.”

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