A WARNING over gangsters posing as police officers targeting tourists in the Russian city where the Celtic play on Thursday, was not fake news, it has emerged.

Zenit St Petersburg took to social media to dismiss reports that there were official Foreign Office warnings that bogus officers have harassed and robbed tourists in their city.

HeraldScotland:

The club who take on Celtic in the second leg of a Europa League tie on Thursday, told Celtic fans "please don't listen to this" when referring to reports of gangsters who prey on tourists.

They referenced fans to official Foreign Office advice for the game which the club said "has no mention of fake cops or gangsters".

Zenit said: "Celtic fans, don't listen to this, you will definitely receive a warm welcome from everyone in our city."

HeraldScotland:

The Zenit rebuttal was also circulated to Celtic fans by the club's supporters' liaison.

But while some Celtic fans contacted Zenit on its social media channels to pour scorn on the reports, details have circulated amongst other Celtic fans that show that the warning does actually exist.

One said: "It looks to me like the fake news is itself fake news. Although  they may not have looked further than the Celtic advice."

It remains in place in a separate Foreign Office travel advice advisory to tourists travelling to Russia.

It says: "In St Petersburg there have been reports of street crime where tourists have been specifically targeted. These crimes are carried out by well organised gangs. Be aware of pickpockets in the main tourist areas and around the main railway concourses. Bogus police officers have harassed and robbed tourists. If you are stopped always insist on seeing identification."

It goes on: "Avoid openly carrying expensive items, or anything that might easily identify you as a tourist. Avoid walking about late at night alone."

HeraldScotland:

Separate advice produced by the Foreign Office for Celtic fans warns: "As in any other city beware of pickpockets and bag snatchers at the airport, railway stations, around the city centre, at tourist attractions and when using public transport – only carry what you need and leave spare cash and valuables in hotel safety deposits."

Around 500 Celtic fans are expected to head to the game.

Celtic fans have also been recommended to use buses to the match as they are due to have a dedicated police escort, which will avoid heavy traffic.

Celtic fans have been advised not to buy tickets for the home sections and to stay in large groups of around 10 or more.

It is also suggested fans have some form of photographic ID at all times whilst in the city and to remain in the popular tourist areas that are well lit and well populated.

Celtic take a one-nil lead to the Baltic city with a place in the last 16 of the Europa League at stake.

HeraldScotland:

The Hoops are 4/6 favourites to qualify, with Bet365, Skybet, William Hill and Betfair, whiile the Russians are a 11/10 chance.

The Foreign Office insisted the advice given about bogus police officers in St Petersburg was still relevant.

An FO spokesman said that the St Petersburg warnings did not have to be contained in the direct advice to Celtic fans, as they were referred to on the separate Russia advisory.