THERE have been calls for the venue of a potential match between Celtic and Linfield to be switched due to concerns about security.
The two clubs could face each other in a Champions League qualifier at Windsor Park next month – to be played on 11th night.
The Scottish giants enjoy a huge following in Ireland and all over the world. And are supported mainly by Catholics while Linfield has mainly unionist and Protestant support base. It would be the first ever meeting between the sides.
Both July 11th & 12th are significant dates in the Loyalist calendar and an influx of nationalist/Republicans into the mainly loyalist Windsor Park area could prove a security nightmare for the RUC/PSNI.
Each year thousands of Orange Order supporters gather to watch the annual Twelfth parade through Belfast, and the unionists/Loyalists on Saint Patrick’s Day object and sometimes become violent at anyone wearing Green on St Paddy’s day. So with the Celtic supporters wearing Green & White and Green, White and Orange, theres potential for trouble. Which passes close to the stadium along the Lisburn Road.
And Loyalist paramilitaries including the UDA and UVF and also SEA-UDA also it could end up in a bloodbath. As they would be urging there supporters to attend to show support & start potential trouble. An Eleventh Night fixture could prove equally volatile as loyalist attend bonfires accorss the city.
Critic’s manger is Brendan Rodger, (pictured above), who comes from Carnlough, Co Antrim. While Linfield’s boss is former Rangers player David Healy.
There was controversy in 2008 when Healy mined playing a flute (pictured above), in front of Celtic supporters during a friendly game with Fulham, his club at the time. He later apologised. With the majority of Celtic supporters expected to make the journey by boat, there is also a potential for a clash with Scottish loyalists making their way to the North to take part in the Twelfth demonstrations.
Linfield has provisionally suggested a 5pm or 5.30pm kick-off on Tuesday July 11th, subject to consultation with the RUC/PSNI.
But Seamus Darragh from the Dicey Reilly’s Celtic Supporters Club in Belfast last night said the venue for the first match between the clubs should be switched, meaning it would take place in Glasgow. “My point of view is the best situation is to reverse the fixture.”
He said to hold the first leg in Belfast at the biggest time of the year for loyalists would be insane”. “I think the police will intervene. Already they are going to be stretched,” he said. “Even when it’s normal police are under stress.”
Mr Darragh, a former Linfield youth player, added that some Celtic Supporters will be rooting for Linfield when they face SP La Fiorita. “We want Linfield, it’s a beauty of a tie,” he said.
Trouble has flared in the past when teams supported by nationalist/Republican have played at Windsor Park. There were violent scenes in 1990 when Donegal Celtic played Linfield.
A year later loyalists threw a hand-granade at visiting Cliftonville supporters. In 1948 Belfast Celtic’s Jimmy Jones suffered a broken leg when he was attacked by Linfield supporters during a Boxing Day game at Windsor Park, precipiting the departure of the club from Irish League Football.
Operations Superintendent for Belfast Norman Haslett said on Monday night: “We are aware of the possibility of a Belfast fixture next month between Linfield and Celtic. “We are currently in discussions with UEFA and Linfield FC about the details of the event.
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With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News. For the original story.
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