Glasgow (AFP) – Fears of sectarian clashes have prompted Scottish champions Celtic to refuse to make tickets available to their own fans for a potentially explosive European match in Belfast as it clashes with a key Protestant celebration, the club said Friday.
Celtic, traditionally a Catholic supported club, will face overwhelmingly Protestant-backed Linfield if the Northern Ireland team see off La Fiorita of San Marino in their opening Champions League qualifier.
The first leg of the Linfield v Celtic game is scheduled for July 14, just two days after the Protestant community mark the anniversary of the 1690 victory of William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne.
Celtic said that concerns over security of their supporters during the so-called ‘Marching Season’ led them to decide against selling tickets to their fans.
“Following security concerns raised by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Celtic has taken part in discussions with Linfield and the PSNI over recent days,” said a Celtic statement.
“Following the discussions, it was agreed among the clubs and PSNI and has now been confirmed with UEFA that, should Linfield progress to the second qualifying round, Celtic’s Champions League match against Linfield will take place at Windsor Park on Friday, July 14, with a 5pm kick-off.
“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.”