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Sport & Leisure Swifts to progress with name change despite being 'disappointed' with Belfast Celtic Society statement

Sport & Leisure Swifts will progress will plans to change their name despite being 'disappointed' by the reaction of the Belfast Celtic Society.

Earlier this month, the third-tier Irish League club announced that they are changing their name to Belfast Celtic Football Club, having taken the decision at the club's AGM.

Despite stating their hopes to work closely with the Society, a statement was released by the BCS on Wednesday outlining 'concern' over the move that the Society worried  'could potentially damage future football development prospects in west Belfast'.

The Belfast Celtic Society stressed that there are no links between the new venture and the original team, which was dissolved in 1949 having won 14 Irish League titles and eight Irish Cups.

Now Sport & Leisure Swifts have responded in a statement confirming they are in the process of formalising the name change and will release further plans in the near future.

"We are fully aware of the sensitivities of bringing such an iconic club back to life, which is why it has always been our intention to involve interested parties (in shaping) the future of our club as soon as we get formal approval to change our name," the statement read.

"However we are disappointed both with the accuracy of the Belfast Celtic Historical Society statement and also with the assertion that our move 'could potentially damage future football development prospects in west Belfast'."

S&L claimed early discussions with the Society had been 'very positive' and stressed their disappointment that their own optimism was not shared by the group, which was set up to 'protect and preserve' the history of the original Belfast Celtic.

The Society had pointed out that the former players, families and supporters of the original club had not been given the chance to express their views but the Swifts explained that the move had to be progressed quickly in order to finalise the name change in time for the coming NI Football League season, which kicks off in just a couple of weeks.

The Society's statement also said that 'any initiative that could be perceived as a vehicle for opportunism would be too much to bear' but the Swifts have denied any sense of exploitation of the original Belfast Celtic.

"We have faced many challenges throughout the years, taking setbacks and overcoming obstacles along the way so that we could bring top level football to the west of the city," their statement continued. "We see this change as the best opportunity to sustain the future of the club and therein to continue to provide Senior Football in the west of the city.

"Our club have not entered this process with opportunism and exploitation in mind, rather we see it as a chance to encourage the growth of Senior Football in the west of the city and to develop talent and encourage a better view of our area from people who reside outside of West Belfast.

"Ultimately, it is our view that if we progress this initiative to its fullest potential then we will attract more investment to the west of the city, which can only benefit local footballers and supporters."

Read Sport & Leisure Swifts' statement in full here:

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