Belfast Telegraph

Linfield fans get set to boycott Crusaders clash at Seaview

By Steven Beacom

The friction between Linfield and Crusaders continues and it will hit new heights later this month with a new body representing Blues supporters planning to boycott their club's Danske Bank Premiership match at Seaview.

It is a significant step by the Linfield Supporters Advisory Forum (LSAF), a group recently formed in order to engage with all Blues fans on issues affecting them and the club.

The Forum has already met the Linfield board and there is a genuine desire that the relationship can work for the benefit of all concerned at Windsor Park.

The LSAF have regular meetings and feel so passionately about the actions of Crusaders over the summer that they are intent on holding a boycott of Seaview on August 24.

The Crues may have ended their legal battle with the Irish FA over the £25 million redevelopment of Windsor Park, but the controversy is far from over as far as Linfield supporters are concerned.

Some months back Crusaders won the right for a Judicial Review in relation to the government money earmarked for Linfield's ground, arguing that the financial assistance could unfairly extend the dominance of the Irish League by the Blues.

This went down like a lead balloon among Linfield supporters, feeling that the remarkable achievements of manager David Jeffrey and his side in recent years had been denigrated.

Over the weekend the IFA and Crues released a statement saying that an agreement had been reached between the parties paving the way for the re-development work at Windsor to proceed.

The deal included an increase in funding to be made available to the new Northern Ireland Football League from 2015.

Clubs in the Irish League can do with every penny they can get and of course Linfield remain the biggest draw in local football.

The Blues have the biggest away following and it's fair to say that over the years smaller clubs have relied on the visits of Linfield and their fans to keep them afloat.

Linfield supporters are renowned for flooding into Seaview and creating a fantastic atmosphere but unless there is a change in mindset there will be few, if any, at the Shore Road venue on Saturday week.

That will hit the north Belfast club hard in the pocket.

Given how the Linfield board felt about the legal battle started by Crusaders, it will be interesting to see how many of them turn up.

In the final match of last season Crues officials sat with their own fans at Windsor insisting they were not welcome in the Linfield boardroom.

While the LSAF are certainly making a mark with this proposed boycott, there is a determination in the group that ticketing issues for other games, particularly Cliftonville away, will dominate their thoughts over the coming weeks and months.

Belfast Telegraph

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