Celtic rule out taking fans to Belfast for Champions League clash with Linfield

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Celtic have announced they will not take up their ticket allocation for next month’s possible Champions League qualifier with Linfield.

UEFA confirmed the first-leg tie in Belfast will take place on Friday, July 14 should the Northern Irish champions make it past San Marino minnows La Fiorita.

The original dates set aside by European football’s governing body would have seen the Parkhead outfit travel to Belfast at the height of the marching season on July 11/12.

That sparked fears of trouble among the Glasgow club’s supporters and Linfield’s loyalist faithful.

But following talks with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, it has been decided to move the clash back to July 14, with a 5pm kick-off.

Celtic have decided the potential for disorder is still too big a risk to take and will not invite their travelling support to follow them across the Irish Sea.

In a statement, Celtic said: ” Following security concerns raised by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Celtic has taken part in discussions with Linfield and the PSNI over recent days. While there can be an option to reverse the fixtures if both clubs agree, during discussions Linfield made it clear that they did not wish to reverse the tie and they wanted to play their home leg first.

“In addition, as is often the case in football, Celtic’s football management team wished to play our away leg first so that we could benefit from the advantage of playing the second leg at home in front of our supporters at Celtic Park for this crucial European tie.

“Following the discussions, it was agreed among the clubs and PSNI and has now been confirmed with UEFA that, should Linfield progress to the second qualifying round, Celtic’s UEFA Champions League match against Linfield will take place at Windsor Park on Friday, July 14, with a 5pm kick-off.

“No tickets will be available for Celtic supporters for the match. The safety and security of all Celtic supporters travelling and attending matches is of paramount importance to the club.

“Should La Fiorita of San Marino qualify for the next round, the first leg match would take place on 11 or 12 July.

“Regardless of opposition, Celtic’s home leg of this qualifying round will take place at Celtic Park on Wednesday, July 19.”

Source: PA




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