Celtic must grab second chance, says Mulgrew after Legia appeal is rejected
Celtic captain Charlie Mulgrew is as aware as anyone of the great fortune that the club have enjoyed in still being able to look forward to a Champions League play-off round against NK Maribor of Slovenia on Wednesday.
Having turned in the worst two-legged performance in their European history (resulting in a 6-1 aggregate defeat to Legia Warsaw), they were subsequently reinstated as a result of a administration error by their Polish rivals.
Ruling body UEFA yesterday dismissed Legia's appeal against the sanction imposed by their disciplinary committee, which awarded Celtic a 3-0 victory in the second leg of their final qualifying round as a result of the Poles sending on Bartosz Bereszynski, who had not completed a three-match suspension, for the final four minutes of that game.
Legia won 2-0 at Murrayfield but the automatic penalty imposed by UEFA saw Celtic go through on away goals. While Legia will make one final, fruitless appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Mulgrew insists that Celtic have nothing to be ashamed of.
"None of this is our fault," he said yesterday. "We know we can play a lot better than we did in those qualifiers and Legia were a decent side but what's happened since isn't down to us.
"The Maribor fixture is there now so we can't go out there feeling sorry for ourselves or embarrassed feeling that we shouldn't be there.
"Our fans will expect us to put on better performances and we'll expect that from ourselves as well."
While Legia have attempted to draw Celtic into the controversy by demanding meetings and even a play-off match between the clubs, Mulgrew is content that he and his team-mates have behaved in a professional manner.
"You have to shut all that out - you've got no choice, really," he said. "When that whistle goes there's no hiding place and you just need to get on with it and get the result.
"We can't affect what happens. We can't change anything so we've just got to block it out and get on with what we're doing. Whatever the fixture is, we need to fulfill it."
Legia owner Dariusz Mioduski released a statement through the club's official website which stressed Legia's determination to keep fighting for Champions League reinstatement.
The statement read: "Till the last moment we hoped that the spirit of sport wins, we find the decision extremely unfair.
"However we expected that decision and were prepared for it. We are to appeal to the CAS promptly.
"We will use the full appeal procedure, in order to get back our result that was fairly gained on the pitch.
"We will certainly fully subordinate to the final verdict. But I still hope that football will win, as well as the values it is based on: fair-play and respect to the on-the-pitch result." (© Daily Telegraph, London)