Belfast Telegraph

£100k bill for policing Linfield v Celtic game at Windsor

By Adrian Rutherford

The bill for policing Linfield's powderkeg clash with Celtic was almost £100,000, it can be revealed.

A massive security operation was put in place for the high-profile Champions League qualifier in Belfast.

Scores of armed PSNI officers in riot gear were drafted in and steel barricades were erected for the match on July 14 - just 48 hours after the Twelfth.

Now it has emerged that the total cost of policing the event was £97,059.

The bill includes officer duty and overtime costs as well as the costs of barrier deployment.

The figure was revealed after a Freedom of Information request from the Belfast Telegraph.

A senior PSNI officer said Linfield would cover the costs related to officers who were on duty inside Windsor Park.

Superintendent Norman Haslett said: "In line with our charging policy... we will be recovering costs for the provision of special policing services within the stadium from Linfield Football Club.

"These resources were requested by, and agreed with the club, prior to the fixture."

Security fears had dominated the build-up to the fixture - the first time the sides had met.

Added to the PSNI's concerns was the fact the tie was originally scheduled for July 11 or 12 -the height of the marching season.

Eventually it was agreed to push it back to July 14, with an earlier 5pm kick-off. However, the game was still marred by a series of missile-throwing incidents.

It is thought Linfield will have earned up to £1m from the game, once prize money, gate receipts, television revenue, advertising and merchandising are factored in.

However, some of the money will have to be redirected towards the policing cost.

Superintendent Haslett (left)said the match was a significant sporting event at a time of heightened tension.

He said the match was policed in a manner and style "appropriate and proportionate to the threat and risk presented".

"The operation was developed in collaboration with UEFA, the football clubs themselves and all other relevant partner agencies," he added.

"In addition to having officers deployed in and around the stadium performing public safety and traffic management roles, it was also appropriate to have a significant deployment of local and specialist police officers at key interface locations and near licensed premises showing the match on TV across Belfast.

"The costing for the operation therefore includes not only that for police in the National Stadium and in its immediate environs, but also in providing a necessary policing footprint right across the city during and after the match."

Celtic won 2-0 at Windsor Park and triumphed 4-0 in the return leg in Glasgow, to advance 6-0 on aggregate.

Linfield did not respond to a request for comment.

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