Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Don't wear your colours in Belfast city centre, Celtic fans warned

Celtic fans sing Walk On during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Celtic and FC Spartak Moscow at Celtic Park on December 5, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Celtic fans sing Walk On during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Celtic and FC Spartak Moscow at Celtic Park on December 5, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A car blazes on the Albertbridge Road in east Belfast
A car blazes on the Albertbridge Road in east Belfast
Neil Lennon takes Celtic to Solitude for the first leg of their Champions League qualifier against Cliftonville
Neil Lennon takes Celtic to Solitude for the first leg of their Champions League qualifier against Cliftonville

Celtic fans have been warned not to wear the club shirt in the centre of Belfast ahead of tonight's Champions League glamour tie.

It came as a fifth night of trouble erupted in east Belfast, where petrol bombs were thrown at police. However, the violence was not on the same scale as previous nights.

Cliftonville are hosting the Scottish giants in the qualifying round of one of world football's most illustrious competitions and the biggest match in the north Belfast club's history.

Following several nights of rioting, Cliftonville officials have advised Celtic supporters not to wear the Glasgow club's famous green and white hooped jersey in the city centre ahead of the Solitude game.

The warning was carried on Celtic's website and quotes Cliftonville FC director David Begley, who said: "Belfast city centre is a very welcoming place but people are very sensitive about colours, not just this week.

"As a result, it's probably best to avoid wearing colours into the city centre tomorrow.

"I would say to all fans to make your way up to Cliftonville Road from the city centre.

"There are lots of friendly pubs here, and indeed our own bar, the Cliftonville Social Club.

"By doing that you can avoid difficulties. It can be tricky as 100 yards in the wrong direction and you could be in the wrong place."

Celtic boss Neil Lennon, from Lurgan, Co Armagh, said he hoped the game against the Irish League champions would be remembered for matters on the pitch.

Asked about the recent disorder, Lennon replied: "Preparations have gone really well so far – it hasn't had an impact on us.

"There might be things going on in the background that police are working hard at but as far as we are aware this has been a normal Champions League trip."

Last night a friendly football match between two Belfast clubs was cancelled just hours before kick-off due to fears it would be hijacked by sectarian troublemakers.

Premier League Glentoran were due to travel to Celtic Park in west Belfast to face Championship One side Donegal Celtic in a pre-season match.

But just before kick-off both clubs announced the game had been postponed on the advice of police and football's governing body here, the Irish Football Association. A statement on Glentoran's website read: "Following advice from the PSNI and the IFA national security officer, tonight's planned pre-season friendly between Donegal Celtic and Glentoran has been postponed."

Donegal Celtic also confirmed the postponement, but the IFA n was unavailable for comment. Last night's friendly was called off after four nights of rioting across Belfast which left 71 police officers injured. The worst trouble was in north Belfast on Friday when a Twelfth feeder parade was prevented from marching past Ardoyne shops as a result of a ruling by the Parades Commission.

Last night, petrol bombs were thrown at police and two vehicles were set alight at Templemore Avenue in east Belfast.

Dozens of PSNI Land Rovers were positioned in the vicinity of the Newtownards and Albertbridge Roads where a large crowd had gathered. Police warned members of the public to avoid the Lower Newtownards Road while they maintained a sizeable presence in the Short Strand area.

In north Belfast, more than 200 loyalists protested at Twaddell Avenue and a crowd of nationalist residents gathered at the Ardoyne shops.

Police said there were pockets of disorder in Woodvale, Mount Vernon and North Queen Street, where small fires were started.

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