CELTIC have warned their supporters that any further breach of Uefa disciplinary regulations could lead to the club having points deducted or facing partial closure of their stadium for European fixtures.
The Scottish champions were reacting to yesterday’s decision of Uefa’s Control and Disciplinary Body to fine them €50,000 – around £42,000 – for the display of a banner depicting William Wallace and Bobby Sands which was held up by the Green Brigade section of their support at the Champions League home game against AC Milan on 26 November.
It is the seventh Uefa fine imposed on Celtic in just under seven years for incidents involving their supporters at European games, now totalling almost £150,000. The level of recidivism is of enough concern for the Parkhead club to highlight the potential for more extreme Uefa punishment in future.
“Clearly it is extremely disappointing that the club must pay another sizeable penalty following the actions of a small minority, particularly given the previous assurances which were made to the club and the widespread understanding of the likely outcome of such actions,” read a statement released by Celtic. “Regrettably, due to previous charges being brought against the club, again following the actions of a small minority, the fines imposed by Uefa are increasing in scale.
“It goes without saying that such actions must stop now, before the club receives a competitive sanction or one which would affect our supporters attending European matches.”
The Parkhead club took their own action against supporters earlier this week, following last Friday’s disorder at Fir Park where smoke bombs were thrown and there was significant vandalism to seats in the south stand of Motherwell’s ground.
Provisional suspensions from home and away games, subject to further inquiries, were imposed on 128 supporters identified as being involved in the incidents at Fir Park. In addition, 250 season ticket holders in Section 111 at Celtic Park, where the Green Brigade have congregated in recent years, have been given the option of either relocation to another part of the stadium or a refund.
Free Section 111 tickets for today’s Scottish Premiership match against Hibs at Celtic Park have been distributed to charitable causes and community groups as the club attempt to address what has become an increasingly uncomfortable issue.
“We are Celtic supporters and we must now move on and look ahead to tomorrow’s match against Hibernian,” added the statement. “We are sure our fans will come together, ensuring that Celtic Park once again provides a positive footballing occasion for all.”
Celtic were especially incensed by the Green Brigade banner at the AC Milan game, having been assured on the eve of the match that it would be purely football related.
Since receiving Uefa’s Fair Play award for the widely lauded positive behaviour of their fans at the 2003 Uefa Cup final in Seville, Celtic have been forced to stump up a series of disciplinary payments to European football’s governing body.
In March 2007, they received a nominal £420 fine for two incidents of plastic bottles being thrown towards the pitch at the San Siro Stadium during a Champions League match against AC Milan.
Seven months later, Celtic were found guilty of improper conduct by supporters and lack of organisation during the Champions League game against Milan at Parkhead which infamously saw one fan enter the pitch and confront visiting goalkeeper Dida.
Celtic were fined £25,000 on that occasion, half of the amount suspended for a two-year probationary period, while Dida received a two-match suspension for unsporting behaviour after reacting theatrically to the incident. In November 2008, a supporter invaded the pitch once more during Celtic’s home Champions League match against Manchester United. Uefa found Celtic guilty of improper conduct and fined them £42,400.
In November 2011, a sanction of £12,700 was imposed for illicit pro-IRA chants during a Europa League home game against Rennes. The following month, a section of the Celtic support at the Europa League tie in Udinese unveiled a banner with the message “F*** Uefa” and let off flares shortly before kick-off, leading to a £21,000 fine.
Earlier this season, another improper conduct charge for fireworks being let off at the Champions League qualifier at home to Cliftonville resulted in a £4,200 fine.