Belfast Telegraph

Linfield issue sectarian warning ahead of Cliftonville clash

By Stuart McKinley

Linfield have issued a strongly worded statement warning fans that they could face bans from Windsor Park.

The Blues are facing disciplinary action after recent incidents involving supporters at league games against Cliftonville and Glentoran.

The clubs is also anticipating charges following a County Antrim Shield tie against the Reds a fortnight ago.

And ahead of Saturday's Danske Bank Premiership meeting with Cliftonville at Windsor Park, the club has again made clear their stance on sectarian chanting.

In their statement Linfield have told fans that fireworks have no place at Windsor Park, that fans invading the pitch will face serious sanctions and that sectarian singing is unacceptable.

Both the Blues and Reds were hit with fines of £3,000 by the Irish FA after a County Antrim Shield semi-final two years ago and although those punishments were wiped out following successful appeals, that was only on a technicality and Linfield are aware that repeat offences will be taken seriously by the IFA.

The Linfield statement reads: "Fireworks and flares are exceptionally dangerous objects and should not be brought anywhere near a football stadium.

"Anyone found in possession of such in a match under the control of Linfield FC will be strictly disciplined by the Club, with possible punishment including a long-term ban from Windsor Park.

"Spectators encroaching or attempting to encroach onto the playing surface is unacceptable.

"Anyone identified as doing so in a match under the control of Linfield FC may also be banned."

The IFA have warned in the past that sectarian singing could result in ground closure.

A statement issued by the governing body after the October 2013 Shield semi said: "Any further incidents of chanting relating to any part of 'the Billy Boys' song, be it word or melody, shall be construed as a breach of the IFA Disciplinary Code and shall be subject to relevant sanctions.

"Uefa considered the chanting of sectarian songs to be a serious form of bigotry and a serious breach of the Disciplinary Code.

"Serious breaches can be punished by the imposition of a directive that the club play games behind closed doors.

It is a warning that Linfield are taking very seriously. Their statement continued: "The Club has already provided guidance on the unacceptability of all versions of the song known as 'the Billy Boys'.

"Any spectator identified as singing such songs or using sectarian language will also be dealt with as outlined above."

IRISH CUP FOURTH ROUND DRAW: Abbey Villa v Rathfriland Rangers, Annagh United v Dollingstown, Ards v Donegal Celtic, Ards Rangers v Oxford United Stars, Armagh City v Lisburn Rangers, Ballyclare Comrades v Crumlin Star, Banbridge Town v Crumlin United, Coagh United v Bangor, Dergview v Sport & Leisure Swifts, Dundela v Immaculata, H&W Welders v Wellington Rec, Institute v Newtowne, Larne v Limavady United, Lis Distillery v Knockbreda, Loughgall v Trojans, Lurgan Celtic v Ardglass, Newington v PSNI, Portstewart v Moyola Park, Queen's University v Tobermore United, Wakehurst v Glebe Rangers. (Ties to be played on December 5)

Belfast Telegraph


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