Friday 23 February 2018

Celtic suspend three fans ‘indefinitely’ for use of flares following cup victory

Flares on the pitch during the Scottish Cup, Fourth Round match at Stair Park, Stranraer.
Flares on the pitch during the Scottish Cup, Fourth Round match at Stair Park, Stranraer.

Andy Newport

Celtic have banned three supporters who they believe set off flares during Sunday's William Hill Scottish Cup clash at Stranraer.

The Hoops have acted swiftly to take action against those who they claim have caused "embarrassment" to the club.

The move may also help the club avoid punishment from the Scottish Football Association after it emerged Hampden compliance officer Tony McGlennan has reviewed video footage showing travelling supporters using the pyrotechnic devices at Stair Park as well as singing offensive chants.

A smoke bomb was also thrown onto the pitch during the Hoops' 3-0 win.

Police Scotland, though, has confirmed it is also to investigate the incident.

Parkhead bosses have been left frustrated that their supporters have refused to heed their warnings on the use of flares and smoke bombs.

The club currently faces a UEFA charge after fans set off flares during their Europa League clash with Fenerbahce in Turkey in December, while they have been hit with a series of escalating punishments following several other incidents relating to the conduct of their supporters during Europe clashes.

Now in a statement they have confirmed they continue to hunt for those they believe are responsible.

It said: "Celtic Football Club today announced that it has identified three individuals connected with the use of pyrotechnics during the Club's match against Stranraer yesterday.

"These individuals will be suspended indefinitely from attending Celtic matches and the Club's investigations will continue.

"Yesterday's events have again caused embarrassment to Celtic and our supporters. On numerous occasions Celtic has stated its strong opposition to the use of pyrotechnics but regrettably again, a very small number of individuals, within a ticket allocation of 2,500, have damaged the Club.

"We should be very clear. Those responsible simply do not care about our Club, our reputation or the safety of our fans and we do not want them at our matches. The Club will be reviewing its ticket allocation procedures to ensure that this matter is addressed.

"Ensuring the safety of our supporters and staff is always of paramount importance to Celtic Football Club. If such behaviour was to continue, the reality is it would only be a matter of time before serious injury is caused. However, we will not allow safety to be compromised by the actions of a tiny minority.

"We have been inundated again by our supporters following yesterday's events and those fans can rest assured that this issue will be dealt with in the strongest terms. We cannot and will not allow this minority to destroy the magnificent reputation which our fans have earned over many years."

Celtic will hope Monday's measures satisfy McGlennan.

If he decides any of the governing bodies' rules have been potentially breached, he will write to both clubs to seek their views before passing the matter to a judicial panel, which would rule on the case and issue a sanction if necessary.

The matter is still at an early stage but among the guidelines McGlennan will consult before taking his next step are SFA disciplinary rules 35 and 37 which govern the responsibility of clubs to ensure the good conduct and behaviour of supporters, whether at home or away.

A number of penalties are available to the panel, including fines, censures and an order forcing matches to be played behind closed doors.

However, the individuals involved may now face action from the legal authorities.

Police Scotland say four supporters - all males aged 44, 25 and two aged 23 - were arrested for a number of football related and public order offences before and during the match.

Officers say their post-match investigation will focus on the use of pyrotechnic devices, smoke bombs and fire crackers as well as alleged outbreaks of sectarian singing and chanting.

Match Commander Superintendent Steven Lowther said: "The behaviour of a minority on the day was unacceptable. What was supposed to be an enjoyable event for all was tarnished by a group of individuals who were intent on singing sectarian songs as well as letting off smoke bombs and pyrotechnics within the crowd.

"It is evident that those involved had no concerns for either the safety of others or how their behaviour spoiled what should otherwise have been an event where the post-match discussion should have centred on football and not their antics.

"We will work with partners and both clubs to try and identify those involved to ensure positive action is taken to address the scenes which were witnessed at Stair Park."

Press Association

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