CELTIC chief executive Peter Lawwell says that the club were left with no choice but to take action against the Green Brigade before UEFA does, as he tries to prevent a ban on all Celtic supporters travelling in Europe.

Speaking at the Celtic AGM yesterday, Lawwell cited the action that UEFA have taken against Dutch side Feyenoord, who have been hit with a ban on selling tickets to next month's tie in Porto, and warned that fans who break the rules are not only besmirching the reputation of the club but are putting other fans at risk with their use of pyrotechnics.

Lawwell also urged a section of Celtic’s support to stop giving ammunition to the club’s ‘enemies’ through their use of offensive banners and songs as he justified the partial closing of the standing section of their stadium.

“We’ve had to take that action on the basis of what might happen if we don’t,” Lawwell said.

“We saw today that Feyenoord fans have now been banned from travelling abroad, and that would affect all our fans in terms of European travel, and they have been fined another 50,000 Euros.

“So, we’ve had to take action in order to prevent further possible restrictive action from UEFA.

“Overall, we’ve got a responsibility first for safety, and second to protect the reputation of the club, and I think our supporters have that as well.

“We are all proud of the reputation our supporters have around the world as a club, and I’m sure the supporters are as well.

“Unfortunately, there is a small minority that we have at the moment who are a challenge in terms of safety in the stadium, and also in terms of protecting the reputation of our magnificent club.

“It’s a difficult challenge, and there are societal changes. People are coming to Celtic Park who are in some way showing their frustrations in terms of their life, and there are societal issues in terms of drug abuse and alcohol abuse manifesting themselves at the football.

“Safety is everything here. We built the standing section for safety, and we have to keep our people safe first and foremost. We also have to protect our reputation.

“Over there, for the vast majority of the time, it is colour, energy, atmosphere, youth, and it is fantastic. There are times though when a small minority let us down.

“The unfortunately concerning thing for us is that they don’t seem to believe they are doing anything wrong.

“So, in terms of overcrowding, pyrotechnics, abusive banners, abusive singing, alcohol in the stadium, these are things which just cannot go on.

“Those things are against crowd regulations and against the rules of the competition. We have to keep to the rules of the competition.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had to take the step of closing the first 14 rows in the standing section. The reputational thing is important for me. You see a banner, or you hear a song and your heart just sinks. Because that’s not who we are.

“It gives our enemies the opportunity to class us as the same as other clubs, and portray us as two sides of the same coin, when we are not. We are different.

“It gives our opponents the opportunity to class us as the same, and therefore it besmirches our reputation.

“Over the years, in terms of UEFA, we’ve actually been fined over half a million Euros now, and that can’t go on.”

Lawwell also warned the culprits among the Celtic support that he may have to look at measures to avoid misbehaviour at away matches in Scotland too.

“In terms of behaviour, I think we have to look at it on a game by game basis to understand what the difficulties are in terms of identifying people,” he said.

“It’s not our stadium, people aren’t in the same seats. Regrettably, we’ve taken action, and if things don’t improve in away games, then I again regret that we are going to have to take action.”