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Celtic vow to support Aleksandar Tonev after racist ban upheld

By Ronnie Esplin

Celtic have maintained full support for Aleksandar Tonev despite the winger being described as neither credible nor reliable by the panel that handed him a seven-match ban for using racist language.

Tonev will resume his suspension after an appeal tribunal upheld the earlier judicial panel decision, sparked by a Scottish Football Association investigation into a complaint by Aberdeen full-back Shay Logan.

In an unusual step, the appeal panel called for both its report and that of the original panel to be made public.

The documents revealed that Logan had accused Tonev of saying: "Don't touch me you black c***" when the Aberdeen defender put his arm across the Celtic player moments after fouling him during a Scottish Premiership game on September 13.

Tonev denied saying the offensive words and no-one else heard them but the panel was informed that Logan quickly told his captain Mark Reynolds, referee Bobby Madden and manager Derek McInnes.

The judicial panel's report described Logan as an "impressive witness" and television footage backed up his account of his response as well as showing him in an agitated state.

The findings added: "He gave clear and unequivocal evidence that Mr Tonev had used the language complained of and that it had been targeted at him."

However, the panel stated they were unable to accept Bulgarian Tonev's explanation.

The report continued: "His evidence on his understanding of the language said to have been used, was particularly unsatisfactory.

"In chief examination his evidence was to the effect that he did not know what the word 'c***' meant.

"He then accepted that he was aware that it was a term of abuse.

"The impression was of a witness giving a less than a full account of his understanding; and seemed to the tribunal to be an inherently improbable account."

Logan replied "one million per cent no" when asked if he could have been mistaken in his hearing.

Celtic were "extremely disappointed" by the outcome and could take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, after manager Ronny Deila stated they would take the issue further.

A club statement read: "Aleksandar continues to have our full support."

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