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Crusaders and Cliftonville optimistic of big derby attendance


The empty away end at the last Seaview derby

The empty away end at the last Seaview derby

Mandatory C - redit Darren Kidd/

The empty away end at the last Seaview derby

Crusaders and Cliftonville are hopeful that a bumper Boxing Day crowd will pack into Seaview for their north Belfast derby.

The most recent Shore Road meeting between the sides back in April was played in front of a virtually empty away end as Reds fans refused to attend over ticketing restrictions imposed upon them in the aftermath of last February's postponed Premiership clash.

On that occasion, a loyalist picket denied the majority of Cliftonville supporters access to the stadium and the game was cancelled with a small number of fans from both clubs already inside the ground.

The clubs are determined that this latest fixture will not be hijacked by outside influences and the Reds last night held a members meeting where, in the interests of appeasing community relations during the season of goodwill, supporters were requested not to travel to Seaview by foot and run the risk of becoming political pawns for protesters on Skegoneill Avenue.

A statement on the Reds' website said: "Cliftonville Football Club have worked closely with Crusaders FC in making arrangements for our forthcoming Danske Bank Premiership fixture at Seaview on Thursday, December 26.

"We are very mindful of the difficulties encountered by supporters last season, despite the best efforts of both Clubs. We are also conscious of the current tensions that have permeated society here in general and that there are those who would wish to use a football match as a vehicle to further increase such tensions locally.

"We have therefore worked towards arrangements to minimise such potential. Cliftonville fans will require tickets for this game and are asked to make arrangements to arrive at Seaview by car or Supporters Club buses.

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"We have been advised by the PSNI that they currently envisage that walking to and from the stadium will not be feasible and we would strongly advise that no attempt is made to do so.

"Crusaders have made arrangements for additional parking near the ground and the facilitating of Supporters Club buses, further details of which will be advised closer to the game.

"We would ask all our supporters to understand the difficulties that both clubs have faced in making the arrangements and would therefore ask for your full cooperation and assistance in making this game a great occasion for football."

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