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Linfield will fight staging of Shield final at Seaview

By Graham Luney

Linfield have vowed to fight plans to stage next month's County Antrim Shield final at Seaview.

The Blues are unhappy the decider is being played at the home of Crusaders, their opponents in the final on Tuesday, January 24.

Linfield have appealed the decision to the Irish FA, claiming that the County Antrim FA has acted in opposition to the competition rules.

The County Antrim FA's Rules Of The Senior Challenge Shield Competition state, in rule 11(d), that the final shall be hosted at a ground which "shall be neutral and deemed appropriate" and which "shall be chosen by the Committee of the Association".

The rule also states that the final may be played on the ground of either team "if the clubs agree".

Rule 11(d) then states: "Should a suitable neutral venue not be available and the finalists do not agree to play on the ground of either, then the Committee shall instruct the finalists to toss a coin with the winner hosting the final."

It was decided by the Committee, in a vote between two proposals, to host the January final at Seaview.

The result was four votes in favour to two against with two abstentions and representatives of both Linfield and Crusaders were present. The Belfast Telegraph understands that the County Antrim FA ruled out Windsor Park as a venue for the final due to prohibitive cost of hire.

As both clubs had representatives at the meeting when a vote was taken to determine where the match should be played, it seems likely the game will go ahead at Seaview - unless Linfield withdraw from the competition in protest.

The Crues resume their Danske Bank Premiership title defence this afternoon with a tricky test at home to Glenavon.

Crues boss Stephen Baxter feels the Lurgan Blues, who suffered League Cup semi-final heartbreak in midweek, will be a tough nut to crack.

"They are a quality side with many top players so you always expect a tough test coming up against them," said Baxter.

"They always have expectations of winning the game when they come to Seaview and if their top players perform they will be very hard to play against.

"Glenavon, for some reason, didn't turn up in their semi-final this week but they will have dressed themselves down and be ready for us."

Meanwhile, there is also a strong possibility that Seaview could host the League Cup final between Ballymena United and Carrick Rangers in February.

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