Rule are rules and everyone should know them before they compete. On an equal note the rules should never be changed mid-competition.
A situation has arisen in the Champion’s League, and Celtic now find themselves caught up in an unfortunate situation.
Legia Warsaw the Polish Champions beat the Scottish champions, Celtic 6-1 on aggregate in the third qualifying round.
However, Legia were then punished by UEFA for fielding the ineligible Bartosz Bereszynski in the second leg.
UEFA reinstated Celtic who have been drawn against face Maribor in the play-off but Legia want another chance to reach that stage.
The Polish side have sent an open letter to Celtic requesting a “meeting” to decide which side should progress to the Champions League play-off round.
Needless to say Celtic are refusing to enter into a discussion due to the precedent tis could set, and a Celtic spokesperson has been quoted as saying, “This is entirely a matter for UEFA and its processes. Accordingly, we will reserve further comment for the appropriate time.”
Many will no doubt feel Celtic should go through as Legia broke the competition rules. The situation arose because midfielder Bereszynski was to serve a three-match European ban at the start of this season. He missed the club’s two-legged tie against St Patrick’s Athletic in the second qualifying round and the 4-1 first-leg victory over Celtic.
So everyone assumed he was clear to play in the second leg. It transpired however that Bereszynski was not registered in Legia’s squad for the ties against the Dublin side and therefore the matches did not count towards his suspension.
It does seem a little harsh therefore to penalise the side when the player did actually sit out those games, and simply because his name was not on a piece of paper. As they say rules are rules.
Legia are trying hard in their open letter to appeal to Celtic’s history and good nature, as part of the open letter reads, “Celtic FC wrote one of the most beautiful pages in the history of European football, when in 1967 they unexpectedly defeated in the final of the Champions Cup mighty Inter Milan headed by Helenio Herrera. Imagine that Jock Stein and Billy McNeill were deprived of the greatest triumph in their athletic career by completing the application form wrong.”
The letter continues: “Do not destroy the beautiful clubhouse heritage that you have left in the care of previous generations, ‘The Bhoys’. I challenge you, would you in the spirit of the game and fair play, and on the basis of Art. 34 paragraph 5 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations of Legia Warsaw took a common position on the Uefa disciplinary bodies. Meet in Warsaw or in Glasgow and let’s settle this matter honourably.”
One has to admire Legia co-owner Dariusz Mioduski for penning the letter and also making it public. There are bound to be many fans who would say why not settle the matter honourably with another game. The reality is that a place in the Champion’s League is worth a great deal to Celtic and following a 6-1 loss over the two legs, one cannot blame them if they are not to keen to compete against Legia again.
Maybe the rules of competition need to be looked at an comon-sense prevail in the future, so that no other club finds itself in a similar position.