Celtic could be set for a Champions League reprieve following the news that Legia Warsaw had fielded an ineligible player in their 2-0 win over the Scottish champions on Wednesday night.
A statement on the official Legia Warsaw club website announced that ‘UEFA have opened an investigation’ into the fielding Bartosz Bereszyńskiego.
Bereszyńskiego, an 86th minute substitution, was red carded last season and was handed a three match ban. Legia failed to register the player against St.Patrick’s therefore the right back failed to serve his suspension.
Despite losing the Champions League tie 6-1 on aggregate, Celtic could find themselves securing a place in the next round of the Champions League if UEFA disqualify Legia Warsaw.
It’s not the first time Celtic have profited from a club fielding ineligible players against them, in the club’s 2011 Europa League campaign they were defeated 3-1 on aggregate by Swiss side FC Sion, but the Swiss side were booted out of the competition for fielding five ineligible players and Celtic took their place in Group I of the competition against Atletico Madrid, Udinese and Rennes.
In 2012, FC Arsenal Kyiv were handed a 3-0 forfeit defeat for fielding Eric Matoukou against ND Mura 05 in their Europa League third qualifying round.
Matoukou was ineligible as he had been handed a two match ban after receiving a red card while playing for KRC Genk in a Europa League tie against Porto back in 2010.
If UEFA rule in favour of Celtic with a 3-0 home win, then Ronny Deila’s side would progress on away goals. However, given that Bereszyńskiego took to the field with the tie already secured, Legia could instead be handed a fine.
UEFA disciplinary regulations Article 21 states: ‘A match is declared forfeit if a player who has been suspended following a disciplinary decision participates in the match.’
It adds that the ‘match may be declared forfeit if a player who is ineligible under the regulations of the competition concerned participates in the match, as long as the opposing team files a protest. The consequences of a match being declared forfeit are as follows: a) the team forfeiting the match is deemed to have lost 3-0, unless the actual result is less favourable to the member association or club at fault, in which case that result stands; b) if necessary, the UEFA administration amends the member association or club’s ranking in the relevant competition accordingly’.