Hamburg unfazed as rival fans plan to back Celtic

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The Independent Football

Hamburg manager Bruno Labbadia has no problems with fans from city rivals St Pauli swelling the Celtic support for tomorrow's Europa League Group C match at the Nordbank Arena.

Fans of St Pauli have a long-standing special relationship with their Glaswegian counterparts and will team up in the same section of the 50,000-plus capacity stadium, with Hamburg's approval, to back the visitors in their attempt to get their European campaign back on track.

Hamburg are top of the table with Hapoel Tel Aviv on six points from three games, Rapid Vienna have four points, while Tony Mowbray's side are bottom with one point, and defeat could see them exit the tournament.

However, around 3,000 Hoops supporters are expected to arrive in the city to be joined on the night of the game by up to 1,000 St Pauli fans.

Labbadia, though, is relaxed about the situation. "The club did the right thing," he said. "The St Pauli fans are in the Celtic sections and the way I see it, there will probably be around 600 to 1,000 more Celtic fans for this game. We have to realise the facts. We know that the clubs are closely related but, no, it is not a problem for us."

Hamburg fans were denied the chance to celebrate with their club's players after the 1-0 win at Celtic Park last month. Strathclyde Police prevented the visiting players going over to their supporters and Labbadia revealed afterwards that he had been warned his club could be reported to Uefa if they ignored the police. However, he denied there was any lingering resentment. "I wouldn't say there were still bad feelings," Labbadia said. "There was a reason why it happened because there had been problems with other teams' supporters before and Celtic have been fined.

"So we do understand. We were happy to win in Glasgow and here in Hamburg, the players can go to our fans and celebrate accordingly."