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Celtic fans angry as Hoops turn down tickets for potential Linfield clash

By Adrian Rutherford

Celtic fans have reacted with anger at the prospect of missing next month's potential Champions League qualifier against Linfield.

The Scottish champions could play in Belfast on July 14 - just 48 hours after the Twelfth.

But officials from the Glasgow club have rejected tickets, saying fans' safety and security took precedence.

Linfield still have to overcome La Fiorita of San Marino, but the PSNI and Police Scotland have already started planning for a potentially high-risk Windsor Park showdown.

The game was moved from its scheduled dates of July 11 or 12 at the request of the PSNI.

Now it has been confirmed that away fans will not be present at the Belfast leg, if the tie goes ahead.

In a statement, Celtic FC said: "No tickets will be available for Celtic supporters for the match.

"The safety and security of all Celtic supporters travelling and attending matches is of paramount importance to the club."

However, fans last night expressed disappointment at not being able to attend the tie.

Many took to social media to express their frustration.

One wrote: "It's unfortunate that people can't go and watch a football match. It says a lot about our society."

Another said it was "an absolutely disgraceful call by Celtic".

Others warned that some fans may try and get tickets anyway - potentially adding to the risk.

One supporter said: "It will possibly make the situation worse as no doubt a small number of Celtic fans will get hold of tickets and will therefore be hugely outnumbered, making trouble more likely."

However, others said it was the right decision.

One wrote: "The safety of fans has to be paramount and unfortunately this would be a high-risk fixture. Celtic have 100% made the correct call."

It is understood Linfield plan to take up their allocation of tickets for the second leg in Glasgow.

Earlier this week a meeting was held between officials from Celtic and Linfield and representatives from the PSNI and Police Scotland.

A date of July 14 was settled on, with an earlier 5pm kick-off.

A spokesman for Uefa, European football's governing body, said: "Following an agreement between the two clubs, in case Linfield FC qualifies to play in the second qualifying round of Uefa Champions League, the potential first leg match between Linfield FC and Celtic FC will be played as followed on Windsor Park, Belfast, on Friday, July 14."

If the tie goes ahead, Linfield stand to make around £1m.

Adding intrigue is the fact that Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers is from Carnlough in Co Antrim.

Also, Linfield manager David Healy played for the Bhoys' bitter rivals Rangers during his club career.

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