Celtic released a strongly worded statement on Wednesday, calling on fans to end the use of pyrotechnics at matches once and for all.
The statement came after the club were cited by UEFA for “use of fireworks” following the pre-match display at last week’s Europa League game against Cluj. It was the second time that the club had been charged this season following the earlier qualifier away to Swedish side AIK.
In the statement, Celtic said the behaviour “has to stop” and spoke on behalf of the club’s fans saying “supporters do not want it”. However, that statement seems a bit of a generalisation. Judging by the reaction to the club’s tweet on the matter and the discussion following the incident last Thursday, it is clear that some fans do want to see pyro at games. And they’re not alone.
Television broadcasters BT Sport – UK rights holders for the Champions League and Europa League – were also seemingly impressed with the pre-match tifo that depicted boxing legend Muhammad Ali. We know that because they tweeted their approval last Friday, the day after the game.
"Ain't nothing wrong with going down…
it's staying down that's wrong."
Celtic's Muhammad Ali tifo last night looked awesome 😍💚 pic.twitter.com/WAAv6QAsU9
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 4, 2019
The Celtic support aren’t likely to change their ways
There lies Celtic’s problem. The club can come out and criticise an element of the support but the reality is that there is no real want from most fans to change their ways. They see the £11,000 fine dished out following the AIK match (Scottish Sun) and realise that it is a paltry sum.
The glamour and atmosphere of a pre-match flare display is far more important to the average fan and that isn’t going to change. The only way that will be affected, sadly, is if UEFA (or Celtic themselves) impose a partial closure of the stadium.
Until that happens we are going to see more and more flares at European matches, more and more fines from UEFA, and probably more and more love from the likes of BT Sport. It’s a strange paradox.