Celtic fans could face prison after Ajax violence

SIX Celtic fans are to go on trial following mass disorder in Amsterdam and could face up to four years in prison.
Picture: Barcroft MediaPicture: Barcroft Media
Picture: Barcroft Media

The men, aged between 20 and 49, have been charged with “acts of violence against a policeman in a public space” before Wednesday’s Champions League clash between Celtic and Ajax.

Two were remanded in custody in the Netherlands until the trial at Amsterdam District Court on 21 November, while the other four were released but will have to return to court on that date.

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon said the club would take action against any fans found to have caused trouble. But he defended the club’s supporters in general and argued Ajax fans should take a larger share of the blame for the trouble.

“I’ve not seen the footage, but it’s obviously very disappointing,” Lennon said.

“If any fans have been seen to cause trouble, and they are season ticket holders, then the club will take appropriate action.

“However, I do feel that Ajax have a culture. We saw a bit of it at Celtic Park in the first game. Manchester City and Manchester United over recent years have had problems in Amsterdam as well.

“So I don’t think it’s our issue: I think it’s more their issue.”

Dutch prosecutors named those charged, but withholding full surnames, as Joseph M, 20; Andrew V, 21; Damien D, 23; Padraig M, 28; Thomas K, 30; and John Q, 49. All six appeared before a judge yesterday morning.

In total, 44 people were arrested after the clashes involving Celtic and Ajax supporters and the police on Wednesday. Twenty-eight were fans of the Glasgow club, and at least 12 of them were fined about €500 (£420) and then released.

Many Celtic fans have raised concerns about the actions of the Dutch police and, in particular, that arrests were made by plain-clothed officers.

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Celtic issued a statement backing the behaviour of the vast majority of travelling fans. The club has launched its own investigation, which will cover the actions of Dutch police.

On Tuesday night, dozens of Ajax fans, wearing hoods and carrying weapons, descended on the Old Sailor Cafe in the city’s red-light district, as a number of Celtic supporters were drinking inside.

They banged on the window and at least one person was punched repeatedly before police arrived.

On Wednesday, there was further trouble prior to the game, which led to the arrests.

Jason Farrell, from Dublin, who was among the Celtic fans to make the trip, said there had been a carnival atmosphere earlier in the day.

“There was about 3,000 to 4,000 Celtic fans in the square and it was all great,” he said. “Then about 6:30pm, the atmosphere seemed to turn.”

He said he had travelled with Celtic in Europe 25 to 30 times and had never felt scared before Wednesday. “I believe the problem was instigated by Ajax supporters, and Celtic supporters retaliated,” he said.

The disorder followed trouble in the match between the two clubs at Celtic Park last month. After Ajax lost, Dutch fans ripped out 300 seats and damaged part of the stadium. Police inquiries are continuing.

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Scottish officers are assisting Dutch police following the disturbances in Amsterdam.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We will continue to work with our Dutch colleagues to identify anyone responsible for acts of disorder.”