If he were playing the newest edition of Football Manager, an impenetrable force, invisible to the naked eye, would have prevented Henning Berg walking onto the team coach as Legia Warsaw waited to depart for Murrayfield, to take on Celtic in the Champions League, on July 30th.

“Excuse me lads, I have an email shaded in red that apparently I must respond to,” the former Blackburn boss would have informed his players “this shouldn’t take long unless it’s something completely ridiculous – like Manchester United have just bid their entire transfer budget on one of you.” Assumedly, the coach would erupt into laughter.

Then the game would inform Berg that one of his players, Bartosz Bereszynski, was suspended from the coming match. Not only would FM14 not allow him to proceed to the next screen, it would also have a very convenient ‘SUS’ – white text on a highly visible red box – next to his name.

But as much as it often feels like I do, when it’s 3.am and I’m shouting at my laptop screen “£4million, George Boyd on loan and 10% of profit from next sale for  Chris Solly is an absolute joke!”, while trying to fend off interest in my Charlton skipper from Hull City, unfortunately, we do not live within the realms of a management simulation game.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where administrative incompetence is not only a grim reality, but it, in many work-places, schools, and likely football clubs too, verges upon common practice.

At Legia Warsaw, there is by no means a culture of furtive form-filling. The Polish side, perhaps caught in a state of euphoria after thumping the favourites 4-1 in the opening leg, mistakenly overlooked the fact that one of their substitutes hadn’t officially served a three-match ban, as he was unregistered for the last two European fixtures. They assumed those games had counted and Bereszynski’s slate was now wiped clean.

It was an innocent error, all the more innocuous for the fact the 22 year-old defender only featured in the last four minutes of the second leg, with the Warsaw outfit already sitting on an exceptionally healthy 6-1 cushion. He made no impact on either match or the result whatsoever, apart from eating up some stoppage time. Surely no manager, no club, and no admin department would be so cavalier to take such an unrewarding risk as to intentionally include a suspended player when the outcome of the match – even prior to the second leg at Murrayfield – was already decided.

Yet, Bereszynski’s illegal involvement – despite no official from Europe’s governing body mentioning anything before, during or immediately after the match – was enough for UEFA to turn over the result into a 3-0 victory for the Bhoys. Coincidentally, the perfect score-line to see them through on away goals.

But if Celtic had any class, any remaining belief in what’s referred to in the cricketing world as ‘the spirit of the game’, they’d hand over their place in the next round of Champions League knock-outs to the opponents that trumped them almost fairly and squarely – with the exception of four irrelevant minutes – over the course of two legs. Or, at the very least, offer them a rematch.

You have to wonder if something untoward has gone on behind the scenes. That’s not to accuse Celtic, and UEFA is widely considered to be far less corruptible than its global cousin, FIFA. But throughout this process of disqualification and reinstation,  it’s difficult to overlook the fact that Celtic are a far more attractive prospect for UEFA than Legia Warsaw.

Over the last few years, the Scottish champions have pulled off some of the most sensational results in Champions League history – their 2-1 win against Barcelona in 2012 being the most predominant example.

Even if Ronny Deila can’t repeat the previously unimaginable feats of Neil Lennon, Celtic Park remains one of the most unique venues in the European tournament, the Bhoys’ rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone arguably more poignant than Anfield, and the matches screened throughout the UK and yonder. How many people would tune in to watch Legia Warsaw get thumped by Real Madrid? A lot less than the amount who would watch Celtic attempt to give any Champions League side a run for their money, roared on by one of the continent’s most militant fan-bases.

Let’s take some other examples into account. In 2011, there was another instance involving the Scottish champions. They lost to Sion 3-1 over the course of two legs in a Champions League qualifier, but it was soon revealed the Swiss club had fielded five ineligible players. Sion were kicked out of the competition and Celtic took their place, but that is more than understandable – Football Manager analogy or not, the Super League side deserved to be punished for their own, obvious stupidity. Should the Leiga Warsaw case, proportioned to a factor of 1/5, really be held to the same standards?

And a year earlier, Debrecen fielded an ineligible player, Peter Mane, against Litex Lovech. But they were merely fined rather than having the result overturned, with UEFA explaining the Hungarian side had; “No interest in fielding this player for the last three minutes of additional time, when the score was so clearly in its favour.” Surely this situation is directly comparable to Legia Warsaw’s, the only difference being confusion over suspension rather than illegibility, something the Polish side have labelled a ‘misinterpretation of the rules’.

Not that you can particularly blame Celtic for accepting the ruling, which had its appeal case rejected last week.  You wouldn’t tell UCAS they’ve marked your A-Levels too liberally, you wouldn’t tell your employer they’ve paid you an extra £20. On top of that, the Bhoys have the entirety of Scottish football breathing down their necks, discussing the importance of qualification coefficients and windfall revenues amid one of the darkest and most uncompetitive periods in Scottish top flight history.

But some things are more important, namely Celtic’s reputation. The Parkhead side have by no means gone down in the public’s estimations, but whether they beat Maribor on Wednesday, go on to advance from the group stages or even win the Champions League itself, their successes in the tournament will be forever tainted by the fact that over the course of 180 minutes, Legia Warsaw unquestionably played them off the park.

On the other hand, if the Bhoys were to break their understandable silence on UEFA’s ruling, declare it unfair and insist upon a re-match, it would be one of the most earnest, civilised and heart-felt gestures in the history of European football.

Morality has almost completely left the beautiful game, it’s just Celtic didn’t take their opportunity to rediscover it.

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  • John
    4 months ago

    Sevco supporter busily typing this evening it seems.

    Reply
  • Dom
    4 months ago

    Does this clown who obviously doesn’t do any research whatsoever and cherry picks from other so called journalists, realise if we did give up our place ” in the spirit of the game” we would also forfeit our place in the Europa league ,which we would of had anyway if the eejits from Warsaw could do there paperwork correctly!

    Reply
  • tam
    4 months ago

    christys a mong!!! never heard as much drivel in my life.

    Reply
    • User Avatar
      Ethan Campbell
      4 months ago

      Then obviously you never listen to Mr Liewell – the one who’s lining his pockets and not using the money for the benefit of Celtic.
      If he had actually used some of the coin for the team you may not have been humiliated so badly by nobodies.
      lol

      btw are ‘mongs’ all those dudes that went to St Mungos?

      I don’t think Christy went to that school.

      Reply
      • Doing the Huddle while sevco play infront of 2000 at home
        4 months ago

        Stole any charity money lately ethan?

        Reply
        • User Avatar
          Ethan Campbell
          4 months ago

          Can’t get ever near charity money for the likes of Mount Cashel since those in charge are using it for their filthy party booze

          Reply
  • User Avatar
    Myrtle Beach Bawdeep Csc
    4 months ago

    Let me explain to you (AKA: Beelin Sevco Zombie) why Legia’s action wasn’t an innocent mistake and if this was excused, why St. Pat’s then would have grounds for an excuse.

    Legia DID NOT Bereszynski in their squad for St. Pat’s, therefore allowing Legia an EXTRA player in their squad. In order for Bereszynski to become eligible, Legia would have to burn a squad member (1 of the 25 squad positions) in order for Bereszynski to return to action. BUT, Legia did not do this and KNEW about it!!!

    Not to mention, if Celtic ignored a UEFA order (to replay the tie and then not go to Maribor) Celtic would suffer a future exclusion from up coming UEFA events.

    PS: Enjoy the Ramsden Cup trips to Ibrox (all home matches because the SFA want it that way), speaking of sporting integrity…

    Reply
    • Chris E
      4 months ago

      Warsaw only named 23 players for the games against st pats, therefore your argument is moot.

      Still, they should have named him.

      Monthehoops !!!!! /

      Reply
  • Stevie
    4 months ago

    …..and if Rangers had just paid their tax….It would have been one of themost earnest, civilised and heart-felt gestures in the history of European football.

    Reply
  • User Avatar
    Ross Docherty
    4 months ago

    Are you a complete idiot? I don’t understand why this website would let someone who lacks basic rationality or common sense write an article for them.

    Firstly, lets address: ‘If Celtic had any class, they’d offer Legia a re-match’. You state this like it was an actual, viable option. Celtic could not have offered a re-match even if they wanted to as, like fielding a suspended player, it is against the rules and would not have been recognised by UEFA.

    Secondly, Celtic could not have offered their place in the CL to Legia without being punished themselves as they would have been breaking the rules by pulling out of the tournament.

    Thirdly, the incident you referred to when ‘Debrecen fielded an illegible player’ (think you might have meant ‘ineligible’, if you’re attempting to be a journalist at the very least learn the basic meaning of words, it would have been rather harsh if Debrecen had been been penalised for fielding a player whose name they couldn’t read properly). This incident was a different situation and so a different set of rules applied, the player that they fielded was not serving a suspension he just hadn’t been properly registered. Legia fielded a player who was supposed to be banned from taking part in the competition, albeit because of their own ignorance/incompetence in the administration department of their club. A precedent had been set before this when another club made the same error and were handed a 3-0 forfeit as punishment so UEFA were just following their own rules. If Legia had managed to score one of the two penalties they were awarded in the first leg they would still have gone through to the next round.

    Lastly, Celtic did nothing wrong here. They made no appeal. They abided by the UEFA rules and they have been humble in their acceptance of the large slice of luck they have been handed. Legia, meanwhile, have acted without any class or dignity. If you break the rules you have to accept the consequences, and hopefully Legia, and other European clubs, will have learned from this lesson.

    Reply
    • User Avatar
      Ethan Campbell
      4 months ago

      What a pussy you are Rossybhoy!
      Oh my, Legia are so naughty for breaking the rules so they have to be punished.
      Grow a set of balls why don’t you!
      You were humiliated on the park and then took the place of the team that embarrassed you on an irrelevant technicality. You know it, I know it, everyone knows Celtic don’t deserve to be in the CL.

      There isn’t a hole big enough for you or Celtic to crawl into and hide their faces.
      But you lot are used to that, aren’t you!

      Reply
  • User Avatar
    Ethan Campbell
    4 months ago

    And this was lot who spouted “sporting integrity” when it suits them, eh?????

    You were totally humiliated by a Legia and a former Rangers player.

    Let me repeat that – totally humiliated.

    And then the superior team is ejected for fielding a player with a few minutes to go who had absolutely no bearing on the result.

    How Celtic can take the place of the team that humiliated them so much on the park is completely beyond the understanding of anyone with a modicum of sporting integrity.

    Only lowlifes in it for the money would accept the place of a team that humiliated them in front of their own fans and a worldwide audience.

    The Penn State of Scotland shows their colours once again – hoopless team and fans.

    Reply
    • User Avatar
      Ross Docherty
      4 months ago

      You are obviously a Sevco fan and therefore have no right to comment on ‘sporting integrity’. Your club cheated taxpayers out of millions of pounds to gain a sporting advantage over other Scottish teams and rightfully you ended up going out of business as a result of the club’s culture of cheating and lying. I believe they call it karma, you illiterate blue nose scum.

      Reply
    • User Avatar
      Paul Scanlon
      4 months ago

      Ethan what planet are you on you clown. Celtic will be punished if they give up there place in the next round. Rangers fans can’t seem to grasp that concept. The jealousy must be killing you.

      Reply
    • jackmac
      4 months ago

      Penn State. . Oh dear! Shall we ask the people of Manchester what they think of your mucky mob? Thought not. Idiot

      Reply
  • John
    4 months ago

    What a joke. Innocent mistake or not Celtic could not just “give up” their spot, The whole draw would need re-done. Leiga are not seeded and would not be playing Maribar. Should EVERY team in the tourney wait while this game was played so Leiga’s incompetence could go unpunished? Poor, poor Leiga. A bit sick of it all to be honest.

    Reply
  • Common Mortal Man
    4 months ago

    This article shows a complete disregard for the facts –

    1. This is not some random penalty, the penalty stipulated in the rules for a suspended player is to forfeit the match 3-0. As a result Legia ‘lost’ the game and went out of the competition on the away goals rule. This penalty has applied to many teams before, not just Legia, it is their responsibility to get their paperwork correct.
    2. The directors of Celtic are unable to offer to step down as they have a legal duty to act in the best interests of the shareholders. If they could, and did, step aside the shareholders would be able to sue the directors for loss of revenue. That’s assuming UEFA would allow that anyway!

    While I agree the penalty is harsh and the rules should be changed the fact is this is nothing to do with Celtic and all to do with Legia getting it wrong and UEFA enforcing the rules of the game as they stand just now.

    Terrible article, lack of facts and research.

    Reply
    • Peter Persvaara
      4 months ago

      Morality has almost completely left Christy. Morality is to obey and respect common rules.

      Reply
    • User Avatar
      Ethan Campbell
      4 months ago

      OK, so you have given the technical stuff but tell us how does it feel inside to get absolutely humiliated by a team and then take there place in the tournament over an irrelevant technicality?

      Does it make you feel like a man? Do you really deserve to be there and not Legia? Do you feel proud that ou are in the next round?

      Does make you want to hold your head high in the football world?

      This has nothing to do with facts and research. but rather what makes a man a man, and losers losers.

      Reply
  • jackmac
    4 months ago

    Does us all a favour.. go away.. read the rules then come back and apologise for writing such a pointless article with no basis in fact. Idiot

    Reply
    • User Avatar
      Ethan Campbell
      4 months ago

      No basis in fact????
      Celtic got grubbed, and humiliated in every facet of the game against Legia.
      Legia are out because of an irrelevant technicality, everyone in the football world know Celtic on merit don’t deserve to be in the next round.

      Such shame but your used to that, eh, idiot!

      Reply
      • Aljerman82
        4 months ago

        You sir are a twat.
        Let’s look at the countless millions your old club owed in tax an the small businesses they closed because they never paid their due. Let’s look at the fact if Rangers had similar circumstances would they have stepped down in their last mths on the face of the planet? Nobody would expect that, not even Celtic fans because you can’t do it. If any club had the same position they could not step down because it means exclusion from the tournament and a hefty fine.
        I am a Celtic fan and it was embarrassing to watch I agree with you but you cannot talk when your club can’t even win the Ramsdan cup. It’s UEFA who need to change the rules, not Celtic to blame. If you’re sitting an exam and answer 24 out of 25 questions correctly but on the 25th question you cheat and look up the answer do you think that they should just let you pass the exam? No because it’s rules and they are there for a reason.
        On a much lighter note, with you laughing at Celtic so much how does it feel to have Fat Sally as your manager in the 3rd division (at the time) earning more than all the players in that league combined but still not get you a trophy other than the league? Now that’s hilarious.

        Reply
        • User Avatar
          Ethan Campbell
          4 months ago

          What you fail to understand or rather – ignore, is that Rangers inability to pay taxes after Liewell’s SPL and SFA posse convicted them of a crime they did not commit i.e. illegal ebts.

          Rangers could not get buyers for the club because of the hrmc allegations – allegations they were found innocent of.
          Thus hmrc and the sfa caused the tax problems.

          Since these problems would not have occurred if Rangers hadn’t been falsely accused.
          This is old news that some ostrich twats, like yourself, fail to acknowledge.

          Reply
          • Aljerman82
            4 months ago

            Since when did the HMRC rename themselves SPL and SFA Posse?

            All sorts of debt circled your club before the HMRC went to town on them, that was the straw that broke the camels back and that’s something you inbreds fail to acknowledge. Tell why you said to the businesses that went bust waiting to get paid, better still, pay them your GIRO after you sign on. That’s if you can pull yourself out of bed from sleeping with your sister.

            I’ll laugh about you as I’m watching the champ league game tonight ;-)

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