Celtic could face a Europa League decider in front of a closed home stand against AIK Stockholm.

Neil Lennon ’s team will discover their opponents in Europe’s second-tier competition Play-Off tonight when the Swedes face Moldovans Sheriff Tiraspol.

AIK are strong favourites to qualify having won the first leg 2-1 away from home seven days ago, but will not have the backing of their faithful from a usual area.

The Northern Stand is being closed to their fans after a dispute with police chiefs resulted in the club advising their punters to buy briefs for other sections of their 50,000-capacity Friends Arena.


However, AIK are also under investigation by UEFA for a separate situation after serious trouble marred their Champions League qualifier against Maribor last month.

Angry Stockholm supporters caused bother after the goal which put them out of the competition when visiting fans grabbed an AIK flag and crushed it sparking an attempt by home fans to get into the visiting section to confront them.

Coach Rikard Norling and team captain Henok Goitom had to plead for calm amongst the fans, but the matter was included in the UEFA Delegate’s Report and the Swedes are expecting punishment of some sort.

AIK chiefs launched a full investigation with marketing manager Fredrik Soderberg stating: “We go through all our internal security work to see where and how our match arrangement was broken.”

But UEFA are scheduled to make their judgements and deal with the matter at a Disciplinary Committee meeting a week today, Thursday, August 22, one week before the home leg of their Play-Off tie.

Sanctions are likely to include a hefty fine, but some form of stadium closure is possible in extreme circumstances.

In the event of such actions, Record Sport understands any closures would only affect the home area where the problems arose in the Maribor incident and NOT areas which would house travelling Celtic fans if the Swedes get through and the game takes place.

Tonight’s scenario is not connected to the UEFA investigation, but instead AIK are taking matters into their own hands.

Issues between police and supporters have caused problems for the club and they have acted by closing down the Northern Stand.


Club Director Jens T Andersson explained: “Above all, it is a decision we have made against the police permit unit and their application of the conditional staircase, which we think is inconsistent.

“This is a reduction we have not seen before. In the past, there have been 500 people down or up. Now we went on 1250 people straight off. When we asked for a justification, we have got extremely weak writings back.

“Their reason is that pyrotechnics have burned in our stands.”

Asked if the police decision was connected to events at the Maribor game, he added: “It surely is. But there are new conditions for each match.

“I don’t know how they reason. It has gone from almost no reduction to the most powerful reduction in AIK’s history without any major motivation. We strongly oppose this.

“I hope and believe that all AIKs will show an understanding that we as a club must react.

“We believe that the inconsistent application of the conditional staircase is counterproductive in our security work. It presents us with enormous challenges in our events.”

Manager Norling is taking nothing for granted ahead of the tie against the Moldovans, however, and says it’s no formality that Lennon’s team will be going to Scandinavia with work still to be done by the hosts.

Norling said: “You want to think about it [Celtic], but we have a match that we must focus on. We take one thing at a time and try to do our job. It will be a tough match even though we have a good result behind us.”