Saturday 18 January 2020

Warsaw owner appeals to Celtic to 'do honourable thing'

Legia boss Henning Berg vowed that his club would appeal
Legia boss Henning Berg vowed that his club would appeal

Nigel Whittaker

LEGIA WARSAW co-owner Dariusz Mioduski has called on Celtic to play a one-off tie to decide which team progresses in the Champions League.

Celtic were handed a lifeline in Europe's top club competition last Friday after Legia were punished for fielding an ineligible player in their 6-1 aggregate win over the Scottish champs in the third qualifying round.

Legia boss Henning Berg vowed that his club would appeal.

Mioduski tried to crank up the pressure on Celtic yesterday when he issued an open letter stating his club's case and asking Celtic "to settle this matter honourably".

But his plea failed to move the Parkhead club, who responded with a statement on their official website. It read: "We are disappointed by Legia Warsaw's comments. This is entirely a matter for UEFA and its processes. Accordingly, we will reserve further comment for the appropriate time."

After reflecting on Celtic's "beautiful" history, Mioduski continued his open letter: "I therefore call on you to refer your best traditions of honour and honesty, that your famous club has been known for during the last 126 years. Do not destroy the beautiful legacy, that you inherited from the past generations of 'The Bhoys'.

"I call on you to act according to the spirit of the game and rules of fair play – to issue a joint statement to the UEFA disciplinary bodies. Let's meet in Warsaw or Glasgow and settle this matter honourably."

Bartosz Bereszynski, who came on as an 86th-minute substitute as Legia won the second leg 2-0 at Murrayfield last Wednesday, was handed a three-match ban after a red card in the Europa League last season.

Legia believed he was free to play after missing the two games against St Patrick's Athletic as well as the first leg against Celtic in Warsaw. But the player was not included on Legia's squad list submitted to UEFA for the St Patrick's games and thus his suspension was not deemed served.

Celtic were awarded a 3-0 win, laving them going through on away goals after a 4-4 draw.

The Hoops were drawn against Slovenian side Maribor in the Champions League play-off, with Warsaw entering the Europa League.

Mioduski called UEFA's punishment "deeply unfair and contradictory to the fair play rules", and referenced Celtic's "rich heritage" and 1967 European Cup triumph in attempting to persuade them to agree to a rematch. He wrote: "We found it deeply unfair and contradictory to the fair play rules to see our dreams shattered by the last four minutes of the already decided second leg match, when Bartosz Bereszynski was brought on the pitch.

"Our player had served the full sentence and intentionally missed the first three matches in the Champions League qualifiers this season."

He continued: "Imagine Jock Stein and Billy McNeill (manager and captain of the 1967 team) deprived of the chance to achieve the biggest triumph in their career by an application form, filled improperly by a club employee acting in good faith.

"Would any true legend of Celtic FC accept the qualification won despite the double defeat suffered on the pitch? I am strongly convinced that their legendary Celtic pride would not allow them to do that.

"How could they then look in the eyes of their humiliated fans?

"Willie Maley, the legendary manager of Celtic FC, once said that in your stadium 'a man is judged by his football alone'.

"Only you can decide whether this noble credo will be replaced by an opportunistic use of legal loopholes."

Mioduski confirmed to Sky Sports News last night that he has had no reply to his letter.

"We have tried to contact their management repeatedly. We accept our mistake but we want Celtic to accept that it was a genuine mistake, a clerical error.

"It's not just about the money, it's about what football stands for, the values of honesty and honour. We still have a hope we will be reinstated."

Mioduski added that Legia would go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne if UEFA turned down their planned appeal.

Celtic will play NK Maribor of Slovenia in the Champions League play-off round. The first leg is to be played on August 19 or 20 while Legia are due to play in the Europa League against Aktobe of Kazakhstan.

Reuters

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