Wednesday 26 June 2019

Celtic boss Deila admits controversial Champions League saga has left him feeling 'very strange'

Legia boss Berg blasts UEFA

A dejected Fraser Forster, Adam Matthews and Charlie Mulgrew of Celtic leave the pitch after their Champions League qualifier defeat to Legia Warsaw. Photo credit: Piotr Hawalej/Getty Images
A dejected Fraser Forster, Adam Matthews and Charlie Mulgrew of Celtic leave the pitch after their Champions League qualifier defeat to Legia Warsaw. Photo credit: Piotr Hawalej/Getty Images

Ronny Deila admits Celtic's dramatic reinstatement in the Champions League despite losing 6-1 on aggregate to Legia Warsaw in the third qualifying round has left him feeling "very strange".

UEFA awarded the Scottish champions a default 3-0 win in the second leg of the tie after it was discovered that the Polish club, managed by Deila's fellow Norwegian Henning Berg, fielded substitute Bartosz Bereszynski near the end of the 2-0 second-leg win at Murrayfield on Wednesday night while he was supposed to be suspended.

Consequently, Celtic went through on away goals after a 4-4 draw and were drawn against Slovenian side Maribor in the Champions League play-off.

Speaking at the club's Lennoxtown training complex Deila said: "It is very strange, I have to say that.

"First of all I feel very sorry for Legia, and my friends from Norway there.

"It is tough to think of that and now we are in the Champions League.

"That is what UEFA said, we haven't been involved in anything.

"I am a football manager and I have to go with it and now we are preparing for Maribor."

Deila confirmed he had not spoken to Berg but he swerved a question about him possibly feeling embarrassed by the extraordinary circumstances in which his side were handed a reprieve.

The former Stromsgodset manager said: "Legia played well against us, they put in good performances but this is nothing to do with Celtic. It is about UEFA.

"It is not my business. It is a club thing and a UEFA thing."

The Hoops boss also claimed that it was difficult to consider UEFA's decision as another opportunity for the Parkhead side to make the group stages of the competition.

"It is very hard to think of that today because it is a tough decision and I really feel sorry for Legia," he said.

"But we have to go into the game and prepare for Maribor.

"The players want to play in the Champions League. It looks like we have been given another chance and I think it will be no problem to get the players up for the game."

Deila did concede that the continuing possibility of Champions League football could be influential in recruiting new players to Celtic and keeping those who might be thinking of leaving.

So far, only former Hearts and Sunderland keeper Craig Gordon has been signed and Jo Inge Berget has arrived on a six-month loan deal from Cardiff City, while many are expecting keeper Fraser Forster to depart, with Southampton heavily linked with the England international.

"We are working really hard now to get players in for the next stage, "said the Parkhead manager.

"Of course, there are many aspects of keeping players and getting players in but that (Champion League football) is one of those aspects.

"It is a vital thing (getting back in) It will lift the team and performance."

Legia boss Henning Berg said: "For UEFA to make a decision like this, with all the's unbelievable.

"We acted in good faith. We made a mistake in administration with the papers for the St Patrick's games.

"We knew he was suspended and he didn't play in those two games or the first game against Celtic.

"He played in the Super Cup and our league games between those matches, he's been registered with us for all this time and we've not tried to hide anything.

"We've been open and it's just a little small technical mistake in the administration and the consequences for us now is that we are not able to play in the Champions League which was a dream for all our players and the club.

"It's very, very difficult to take and I think it goes against every intention of fair play and fair competition."

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