Polish side Legia Warsaw have lost their appeal with UEFA after being forced to forfeit their Champions League place for playing a suspended player against Celtic.
Celtic are due to play Maribor on Wednesday in the first of their two-legged play-off for a place in the group stages of the Champions League. However, Legia can now try one final time to appeal the ban by going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), as a verdict would have to be reached before next Wednesday.
On Thursday UEFA ruled that its panel will uphold the decision to hand Celtic a 3-0 victory in the second leg over Legia, which the Polish side won 2-0. Overall Legia beat Celtic 6-1 on aggregate in the third-round qualifier, but due to that second leg result being amended, the scores were locked at 4-4 and Celtic went through on the away goals rule.
The man behind all of this is Bartosz Bereszynski, who came on as a substitute for the final few minutes of the second leg but he was technically already serving a three-game suspension from Legia’s Europa League campaign in the previous season.
UEFA rules aren’t too clear on the punishment for fielding an ineligible player and in 2010 Debrecen were allowed to advance in the Europa League despite fielding a player who was suspended.
Legia have asked Celtic for talks to discuss the issue and want the Scottish champions to stand down and give up their place in the Champions League. Would anybody really do that? Despite getting thumped 6-1 and outplayed, Celtic are now two games away from qualifying for the UCL group stages and grabbing the massive cash windfall that comes with that.
Appealing to the CAS is Legia’s last hope and after UEFA rejected their appeal, getting reinstated to the Champions League seems like a long shot.