CELTIC chief executive Peter Lawwell has explained why the club will close part of their stadium for tomorrow night’s Europa League Group E encounter with Rennes.
Part of the rail-seating section of the ground, which houses The Green Brigade, will be shut after the club was fined £12,900 for fan misbehaviour in the 2-1 win over Lazio in Glasgow last month.
Lawwell, addressing the AGM at Celtic Park, detailed the cost in in fines from Europe’s governing body.
The Hoops supremo, as reported by STV, said: “Over the years in terms of UEFA, we have actually been fined over 500,000 euros and that can’t go on.
“You saw today that Feyenoord fans have been banned from travelling abroad which would affect all our supporters in terms of European travel.
“So, we had to take action to prevent further possible stricter action from UEFA.
“We have the responsibility first for safety and, secondly, to protect the reputation of the club and the supporters have that, as well.
“We are all proud of our reputation around the world and I am sure the supporters are.
“For the vast majority of times over there (speaking about the Green Brigade) it is colour, atmosphere, energy and youth and it’s fantastic, but there are times when a small minority let us down.
“The unfortunately concerning thing for us, is that they don’t seem to believe they are doing anything wrong.
“So, in terms of overcrowding, pyrotechnics, abusive banners, abusive singing and alcohol in the stadium, these are things that just cannot go on.
“They are against the law, they are against ground regulations and they are against the rules of the competition.”
Celtic were fined £12,900 last week after fans displayed an “illicit banner” and sang obscene chants during their Europa League game against Lazio.
It was the club’s third charge of the season and there is another hanging over the club for fans using pyrotechnics during the win over Lazio in Rome earlier this month.
That will be the TWENTIETH charge since 2007 and Lawwell claimed “a small minority” is causing problems.
He added: “The reputational thing for me is important. You see a banner or hear a song and your heart just sinks.
“That’s not who we are and it does give our enemies the opportunity to class us the same as other clubs and portray us as two sides of the one coin which we are not. We are different.
“But again, unfortunately, a small minority are a challenge.
“A challenge in terms of safety inside the stadium and also protecting that reputation of our magnificent club.
“It is a difficult challenge. There are societal changes, there are people who come to Celtic Park and in some way show their frustrations in terms of their life and there are societal issues in terms of alcohol abuse and drug abuse that manifest themselves at the football, social misbehaviour.
“For us, safety is everything here. We built the standing section, the rail seating for safety and we have to keep our people safe and we have to also protect our reputation.”
NEW Hibs boss Jack Ross saluted his players after they overcame his former St Mirren side 2-1 in the Premiership in Paisley last night.
Christian Doidge scored his fifth goal in three games to give the Edinburgh side a first-half lead and Stevie Mallan doubled the advantage via the penalty spot after Martin Boyle had been felled by Gary MacKenzie.
Substitute Junior Morias threw Jim Goodwin’s side a lifeline in stoppage time, but the visitors led out for their third successive Premiership victory.
Ross, speaking to the Evening News, said: “I was delighted to win the game. We knew it would be difficult. St Mirren will be frustrated not to have more points on the board because of the way they have played at home and this was another example of that.
“It was a huge game for us because we knew where a win would take us. It’s still very early, but it gives us a platform to kick on. It’s already looking a lot more positive for everyone.
“There’s a lot to build on, but a lot to improve on.
“There are games where you have to find a way to win. We talk about that a lot, you do all your analysis and prep, but the bottom line, the last thing you speak about is winning the game.
“We did that, it was difficult, but we have managed to do it.”
JIM GOODWIN hailed his players after St Mirren’s 2-1 home LOSS to Hibs.
The disappointed Paisley boss, speaking to the Daily Express, said: “We’re extremely disappointed, but I couldn’t be more proud of the players in terms of their effort and commitment in the second-half.
“It wasn’t just their effort, but some of the football that they played.
“It’s a long, long time since one of my sides dominated a half of football like that against a very good team.
“But, unfortunately, we’ve nothing to show for it. I was more frustrated on Saturday even though we won the game because of the amount of opportunities we gifted Ross County.
“On this occasion, my goalkeeper did not have a save to make, yet he had to pick the ball out of the back of the net twice.
“It’s been the story of our season so far, unfortunately. We created so many chances, but didn’t take them and then Hibs go down the other end of the park and score with a deflected header off my centre-half.
“We’re gutted with the result. At 1-0, I thought we were so on top and if we got the equaliser there was only going to be one winner.
“I’m confident if we keep creating the chances then we will get that little bit of luck. They say it’s better to be lucky than good sometimes and that was certainly the case.”