Celtic back in the Champions League
Scottish team reinstated in football tournament after Legia Warsaw were penalised for fielding an ineligible player.
UEFA has reinstated Celtic to the Champions League playoffs in a last minute switch after qualifying-round opponent Legia Warsaw were punished for fielding an ineligible player as a late substitute.
Legia, who had eased past Celtic 6-1 on aggregate, are weighing an urgent appeal before play-off matches kick off on August 19.
Club official Dominik Ebebenge blamed human error for failing to register the player in question for previous qualifying games – meaning those did not count towards his three-game suspension.
“The proportion between the error and the consequences is unimaginable,” Ebebenge told reporters after receiving UEFA’s verdict one hour before the play-offs draw.
The UEFA decision could potentially cost the club millions of dollars in Champions League prize money.
UEFA pays clubs $2.8m for the play-off round and a basic $11.5m award for reaching the group stage.
Celtic have now been drawn against Slovenian champion Maribor in the two-legged play-offs.
Arsenal were drawn against Besiktas of Turkey and two-time European champion Porto will play Lille of France.
A high-class Italy versus Spain clash pair Napoli against Athletic Bilbao.
Zenit St Petersburg were drawn against Belgium’s Standard Liege, and Copenhagen will face Bayer Leverkusen.
First-leg matches will be played on August 19-20, and return matches on August 26-27.
The 10 play-off winners advance to the 32-team group stage drawn on August 28 in Monaco.