Belfast Telegraph

Celtic's good sense on Linfield tie praised by NI-based supporters


By Steven Beacom

A leading official from a Celtic Supporters club in Brendan Rodgers' home town has insisted that the Glasgow club made the correct decision to decline their allocation of away tickets for the prospective Champions League clash with Linfield at Windsor Park.

And even though Jonny Mulholland from the Carnlough Travel Celtic Club admits it would be 'brilliant' to see Rodgers bring his team to Belfast, he urged Hoops fans to follow the club's lead and NOT attend the possible encounter.

The Glasgow giants will face Linfield in the second qualifying round of the Champions League if David Healy's side defeat San Marino outfit La Fiorita in the opening phase of the competition.

The first leg of a potential Linfield v Celtic clash was scheduled by UEFA for July 11 or 12, but with both those dates and July 13 ruled out by police in Northern Ireland due to heightened tension in Belfast with Orange Order marches on July 12, all parties agreed that the game would go ahead on Friday July 14 with a 5pm kick-off.

Celtic announced on Friday that they would not be taking up their allocation of tickets for Windsor, which would have been around 4,000, for 'safety and security' reasons.

A section of Celtic fans have expressed frustration at that decision with some Hoops fans in Northern Ireland saying they are able to travel all over the globe to support their side yet are advised not to do so a few miles from their own homes.

There have been suggestions that with tickets for the match expected to go on general sale that Celtic supporters could buy them anyway and end up in the Linfield end of the ground.

Jonny Mulholland from the Carnlough Celtic Travel Club is hoping that won't happen.

"Tickets will be available but I would appeal to all Celtic fans to follow the club's approach," he said.

"Celtic have turned down 4,000 tickets and I would urge Celtic supporters to stay at home. Please don't be risking your safety and the good name of the club. There will be plenty more European nights at home and away. I really feel with the timing of the game and everything else it would be best for Celtic fans not to go.

"Of course for Celtic fans, and none more so than ourselves in Carnlough, it would be brilliant to see Brendan bringing his team to Belfast but I think Celtic have taken a sensible approach.

"It is the right decision not to take tickets for that game. It's too hostile an atmosphere and with the reputation Celtic have in Europe there is no point in jeopardising that.

"All it needs is for something to happen to spark an incident and the whole club gets into bother and it lets the name of the club down.

"I know there are Celtic ­supporters saying they would love to go but it's in the middle of Belfast on the week of the 12th of July so it could run into ­dangerous circumstances.

"The police are going to be up to their eyes on the 11th night, the 12th and the 13th and then they will be asked to come out again on the 14th so they don't need it.

"We have seen dangers there (at Windsor Park) before even with Linfield and Cliftonville, two Belfast teams. If you get Celtic fans there it would open up a cauldron."

While the Carnlough Celtic Travel Club won't be going to Windsor 35 miles down the road, they will travel to Parkhead for the return leg on July 19.

Mr Mulholland added: "We will travel to Glasgow for the Linfield game if it happens. Remember Linfield still have to beat the San Marino team.

"If it is San Marino, I would think a few of our boys might go there.

"We go to the away games in Europe all over and enjoy ourselves. I'm just not sure that if this game happens going to Windsor Park would be enjoyable."

Belfast Telegraph


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