Now that the dust has settled …


THE CAS today denied Legia Warsaw’s appeal against their elimination by UEFA from the Champions’ League Group Stage qualifiers.

Since the whole undignified affair blew up, causing Celtic to be battered by a storm of totally undeserved opprobrium, this blog has refrained from comment, pending a definitive outcome. Now that one has been reached, a couple of points need making.

Straight off, let’s nail the myth that Legia were “booted out of Europe” for briefly fielding a suspended (note, NOT ineligible) player against Celtic, with the tie already sewn up – they weren’t!

That LIE is based on the same kind of malicious misrepresentation of the facts as engendered the fabrication that Rangers (IL) were relegated to the bottom tier of Scottish football. Of course, they were nothing of the sort. For their perceived sins, former Rangers were consigned to liquidation, the latter stages of which are currently grinding. Consequently, that club no longer exists … while the entity that stole their clothes, so to speak, currently plies its trade in the SPFL Championship, having been blatantly shoehorned into our leagues by a shameful process of administrative smoke and mirrors.

But that’s another story altogether.

Getting back to the Legia affair, what really happened is that they incurred the prescribed and by no means unprecedented penalty for a foolishly self-inflicted, fleeting breach of UEFA’s Champions’ League rules. The resultant overturning of their second-leg 2-0 victory into a 0-3 defeat caused them to be eliminated from (note, NOT booted out of) the competition on revised aggregate, courtesy of the “away goals” rule.

It should never be forgotten that, had they converted even one of their two missed spot kicks in that catastrophic first leg and all else remained equal, they would have survived the UEFA penalty and still won the tie. The reality, then, is that it was the ensuing outcome that might conceivably be deemed disproportionately severe … not the penalty itself, which was appropriate under the rules, routine and entirely commensurate with the offence.

Now, disastrously unfortunate though that is from a Legia standpoint; and IMHO somewhat embarrassing from a Celtic perspective, our club had absolutely nothing to do with the Polish champions’ demise. Guilty of nothing more than simply playing by the rules and deferring to their enforcement, albeit self-advantageously, Celtic can now progress to the play-off tie against Maribor with head held high (well, at least, up) – though no doubt the usual suspects will do everything in their power to portray things rather differently!

I only hope our admittedly jammy Bhoys can now convert this hugely fortuitous reprieve into an unbreakable resolve to repay the fans’ crushing disappointment over the Legia under-performances by delivering the most unconventional of qualifications for the Champions’ League 2014/15 Group Stages.



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