Celtic to retain Europa group place if Sion reinstated

Celtic's Georgios Samaras challenges FC Sion's keeper Andris Vanins at Celtic Park. Photo: Andrew Milligan
Celtic's Georgios Samaras challenges FC Sion's keeper Andris Vanins at Celtic Park. Photo: Andrew Milligan
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Celtic will retain their place in the Europa League group stages even if Sion are reintegrated into the competition, according to Uefa.

Sion were expelled from the tournament on 2 September for fielding ineligible players in their play-off victory over Celtic and lost an appeal against their expulsion later that month. The club have since earned the backing of the Swiss civil courts in their fight to be reinstated.

Uefa is keen for the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to have the final say, but yesterday submitted documents to a court in the Vaud region of Switzerland, which previously ruled in favour of Sion, examining a number of possible outcomes if Sion succeed.

The governing body specifically stated that Celtic would not be excluded even if the CAS rules in favour of Sion, who signed six players in the summer after disputing Fifa’s interpretation of the length of a transfer embargo. Two of the options centre on making Celtic’s group a five-team section with a third allowing Sion the chance to progress to the last 32 via a play-off.

Celtic have taken one point from two games so far and face Rennes in France on Thursday.

A statement from Uefa read: “The first option assumes the cancellation of all previous games in Group I and for a set of new games to be played within a group of five. The second option allows for the integration of FC Sion into Group I as an additional fifth team, but that the results and points of the games already played in the group remain. Eight additional matches would have to be played, starting at the end of November.

“The other options, mainly valid in the case of a late reintegration, assume that FC Sion could be integrated directly into the round of 32, following a qualifying play-off round still to be defined.

“All these scenarios have one thing in common, and that is a strong impact on the other clubs in the competition.

“Uefa therefore underlines the fact that the other clubs may accept these possibilities only after a decision made by the Court Arbitration for Sport – the only authority they have all accepted as competent to rule on sporting matters in the Uefa Europa League.”