Kazakhstan police issue flare warning to Celtic

Police in Kazakhstan say they will take action if pyrotechnics are used by Celtic fans when they visit to play Shakhtar Karagandy.

Flare smoke drifts across Hampden during last season's Scottish Cup final between Celtic and Hibs. Picture: Jane Barlow

Despite the number of visiting fans expected to be low, with estimates ranging from 30 to 100, authorities in the eastern European state have issued a warning advising supporters that they will be fined or even jailed should flares be fired in the Astana Arena.

A statement from the government press agency says the use of fireworks will be treated as “petty crime”.

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It reads: “In line with the Kazakhstan legislation and the rules of the championship, use of pyrotechnics is prohibited, “If any such violations are found, the violator will be prosecuted in observance of the Administrative Code of Kazakhstan: the action shall be qualified as petty crime under the Article 330 Clause 1. The violation is punishable with a fine of 3 to 10 monthly calculation indexes ($35 to $115) or an arrest for up to 10 days.”

Reports from the former Soviet state say police have been “collecting information” and that 1,000 Kazakhstan law-enforcement have been drafted in for the match.

Celtic have come in for criticism for their use of flares in recent seasons.

In July manager Neil Lennon urged the club’s support to refrain from their use following a pre-season tour.

He said at the time: “I am not a fan of fireworks in a football ground. They’re dangerous and I am not a fan of flares being thrown on to the pitch either.

“I don’t think they achieve anything and are counter-productive.

“The club’s motivation more than anything is safety within the ground. At the end of the day the club will be responsible if anything happens.”

Celtic take on Shakhtar at 4pm on Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League play-off tie.