The scheduling of the Europa League Group stages match at Celtic Park against Ferencvaros has been a cause of great anxiety for the club. Before the announcement was made I received a call from the club advising of the development, explaining the reasons behind it and stressing that the club had exhausted every avenue as they looked for a different solution – but none was available.
To have to play a big European match on a Tuesday afternoon kicking off around the time that the school bells are going – hopefully there are a few sympathetic head-teachers reading this who will turn a blind eye to a flood of dental appointment notes from parents for Tuesday afternoon – is highly unusual to say the least.
Celtic played Atletico Madrid in a midweek afternoon kick-off behind closed doors in the mid 1980s – that was as a result of the cheating from Rapid Vienna after we hammered them at Celtic Park to overcome a 3-1 away first leg defeat. They used a half bottle of vodka thrown from the Jungle onto the park as an excuse fraudulently claiming that one of their players had been hit by the bottle and conned a replay in Manchester at Old Trafford. A horrible experience all round that was and it resulted in Celtic playing in the afternoon and no fans allowed inside Paradise.
There will be a sizeable Celtic support there on Tuesday, the club confirmed last night and Ange Postecoglou added some comments of his own to the club’s update. Firstly Celtic explained on the club’s official website once again the circumstances surrounding this bizarre start-time for a European tie.
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has thanked supporters for their commitment to the Club as they are set to arrive in great numbers at Celtic Park next Tuesday for the Club’s match against Ferencvaros.
Ticket sales for the match on Tuesday have already been excellent for the Europa League match, which will unusually take place on a Tuesday afternoon.
Due to the Cop26 Conference taking place in Glasgow, Police Scotland informed the Club that no home matches may take place on matchday 4 of the Europa League. This means UEFA must schedule two home fixtures in the city on matchday 3. Police Scotland, stewarding companies and other matchday service providers are unable to facilitate two major fixtures at home on the same day.
Therefore, the date of the match had to change from the normal Europa League slot and is required to have a late afternoon kick-off to avoid a clash with UEFA Champions League matches.
We can assure our fans that we made significant representation at the highest levels to try and avoid this eventuality. Clearly the Club wanted to avoid this change and undertook discussions with all relevant authorities, exhausting all avenues to try and establish a better solution for the club and our supporters. However, none of these other options were successful.
Everyone at the Club understands the frustrations of supporters and we are absolutely aware of the difficulties which these circumstances cause supporters. However, we sincerely thank all those fans attending in advance. Of course, we are disappointed that a number of fans will not be able to attend.
Hopefully the fans who can’t be at Celtic Park will be able to see the game on BT Sports and can pass their tickets on to others who can get along. Celtic also confirmed yesterday that as a result of the requirement to check vaccination status there will be NO tickets sold on match day at Celtic Park, so you have until Monday at 5pm to buy tickets.
The Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou thanked the support for making the best of the unusual circumstances to get along onTuesday afternoon to back the team. Again on the official Celtic FC website he stated:
“I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank so many supporters for committing to next week’s match.
“We fully understand that this is a highly unusual time for a European match. However, I can assure our fans that we will be doing all we can to make it a good occasion for us and do all we can to get a positive result for our supporters.
“It goes without saying we would have preferred different scheduling, but we have to go with it and look ahead to the game positively.
“But while the circumstances are totally outwith our control, it doesn’t mean we don’t understand the difficulties and issues which will face supporters in terms of a change to the normal routine, perhaps in terms of getting time off work and having to work around other things to get to the game.
“It’s obviously very unusual timing for the match, so all the efforts being made to get there are truly appreciated, by myself, the players and everyone at the Club. It is, of course, a real shame that a number of fans will not be able to make it, something we totally understand, but we will do all we can to get a result for all our supporters.
“For so many fans to have committed to the match already demonstrates again what a brilliant support we have. So on behalf of everyone at the Club, I want to reiterate our thanks for such great support.”