CELTIC fans in Seville were hailed as ''ambassadors for Scotland'' yesterday for their exemplary behaviour during the Uefa cup final.

Despite up to 80,000 Celtic supporters descending on the Spanish city, no arrests were made on match day. At home, there were 81 arrests across Strathclyde for football-related incidents. The majority were for minor offences such as breach of the peace and assault as police responded to a number of disturbances.

Ricky Gray, assistant chief constable (operations) of Strathclyde police, said: ''We have been in close contact with our officers who are out in Seville, and they have confirmed that there have been no arrests of Celtic fans overnight.

''Despite the team's defeat and the lengthy delays at the airport, the supporters have been fantastic.

''In fact, a member of the British consulate at the airport in Seville stated that the Celtic fans were the consummate ambassadors for Scotland. This is brilliant praise for the thousands of supporters.''

A senior police officer said: ''We've never seen anything quite like it before. They were drinking themselves crazy, yet there was just no trouble. It was an amazing demonstration of sportsmanship.''

Since Monday, only three Celtic fans have been arrested in Seville for minor offences. Spanish police seized a number of forged tickets at the stadium, and inquiries into this continue.

Just two fans were detained on the day before Wednesday's game. One was accused of smashing up a hotel bedroom in a fight. The other was fined (pounds) 64 and ordered to pay (pounds) 28 compensation after stabbing and slightly injuring another Celtic supporter with a table knife. At the end of the short trial he walked across the court and publicly apologised to his victim.

Tributes to the behaviour of the fans were made in the House of Commons by John Reid, leader of the House and a Celtic supporter, and Pete Wishart, the SNP MP for Tayside North.

Dr Reid, who travelled back from Seville to conduct parliamentary business yesterday, said the behaviour of the fans in bars in Glasgow and the ''astonishing'' number who travelled to Seville was ''a credit to Scotland and to us all''.

British consular staff in Seville reported a virtually

incident-free event, with no arrests on the night of the match. The main task for the consulate was dealing with hundreds of cases of lost passports and air tickets. It estimated that it dealt with 500 fans with minor problems.

Several were taken to hospital with dehydration (temperatures reached 104F on match day) and the massive intake of alcohol. All were all released after treatment.

Even after the 3-2 defeat and a long wait at the airport through the night for delayed charter flights home, there was no trouble.

A crowd of 440 who had expected to board a 4am flight to Prestwick had to wait nine hours in Seville because the flight crew had not had time to rest from their flight from Scotland the previous day.

One passenger complained: ''It was disgraceful. They should have known they would need an extra crew for the flight back. We've been waiting in the airport all night. There were women with children there who were having an awful time.''

Universal Travel, the

Glasgow-based tour company that chartered the flight, refused to answer queries yesterday and hung up when contacted by The Herald.

However, an agent later said that the delay had been caused by problems with the arriving flight on Wednesday. She said: ''It took three hours to park the plane and three hours (for the crew) to get to their hotel.

''Legally, they're not permitted to fly an aircraft until they have had a certain amount of rest. By that time, the slots were used by scheduled airlines. It was really annoying for the passengers because they could see the plane but couldn't get on it.''

the numbers game

80,000 Celtic fans were estimated to have travelled to Seville.

70 chartered flights returned fans into Glasgow and Prestwick airports yesterday.

81 football-related arrests were made by Strathclyde police on Wednesday night.

30,000 passengers arrived at Glasgow airport yesterday, with 16,000 Celtic fans helping to make it the busiest day on record.

500 million viewers watched the match world-wide.

(pounds) 15m is estimated to have been made by Celtic from ticket sales, TV rights and merchandising.