Celtic's European campaign isn't over quite yet. It's back in the Europa League after UEFA kicked out Swiss club FC Sion, which had beaten the Scottish club, 3-1, on aggregate in the final qualifying round, because Sion fielded five ineligible players.
Celtic's reward is what Peter Lawwell, its chief executive, called "a Champions League group in terms of quality." It takes Sion's place in Group I, which also includes Rennes, Atletico Madrid and Udinese. Qualifying losses by Celtic, Rangers and Hearts meant that Scotland would have b een without a team in Europe this fall.
Sion's expulsion stems from an ongoing battle it has had with international soccer authorities over a transfer embargo imposed on the club for breaching rules when it signed Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary in 2008. UEFA upheld Celtic's appeal that Sion fielded five players signed during the embargo.
Sion is certain to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but UEFA President Michel Platini is adamant about his organization's position.
"There are rules that have not been respected," the Frenchman said. "FC Sion has not respected the rules of the transfer ban, they signed players and then played those players."