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UEFA guarantees Celtic's Europa League place

European football’s governing body has issued a statement assuring Celtic of their place in this year’s Europa League, even if FC Sion are somehow reintegrated.

Sung-Yeung Ki scores for Celtic against Udinese.
Sung-Yeung Ki scores for Celtic against Udinese.
Image: Joe Giddens/EMPICS Sport

SWISS SIDE FC Sion were expelled from this year’s Europa League in controversial circumstances after fielding a number of ineligible players during their final round of pre-tournament qualifying with Celtic FC.

Taking the place of their play-off opponents by default, Celtic were elevated to the tournament’s group stages, during which they’d achieve a modest return of one point from their opening games against Udinese and Atletico Madrid.

In spite of the tournament’s apparently unstoppable momentum, Sion decided to challenge UEFA’s decision in the Swiss courts, eventually securing two favourable judgements in the Canton of Vaud.

The success of the club’s litigative efforts thus far has forced UEFA to provide the court with a detailed dossier of logistical scenarios under which Sion could be reintegrated to the competition.

Though UEFA still intends to bring the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), meaning that this latest development falls a long way short of the mea culpa Sion had been hoping for, it still represents a significant softening of the organisation’s stance.

Pre-empting protests from Celtic supporters, however, UEFA have moved to quell fears of the club’s sudden removal from the tournament. According to an explanatory statement posted on UEFA’s website, the Scottish side have nothing to fear, even if Sion’s legal challenge succeeds.

“After a detailed analysis of the competition regulations, UEFA’s competitions division has provided several possible scenarios for the reintegration of the club into the competition, without replacing Celtic FC who duly qualified after the confirmed decisions of the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body and the UEFA Appeals Body.”

Neil Lennon’s side, quite unlike those responsible for Sion’s initial ban, can breathe a sigh of relief.

Read the full statement on UEFA’s website>

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