Saturday 24 March 2018

Celtic's Dublin fixture plan gets UEFA boot

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

UEFA have poured cold water on Celtic's suggestion that they could play a Champions League qualifier in Dublin next summer.

Hoops chief executive Peter Lawwell had floated the Aviva Stadium or Croke Park as a possible temporary home for the Glasgow club next summer when Parkhead is being used for the city's hosting of the Commonwealth Games.

If Celtic, as expected, retain the SPL this year then they are likely to play a home Champions League qualifier between July 23 and August 3 of 2014. But UEFA have confirmed that a request to move the game outside Scotland would be denied under their current rules.

Rule 12.7 of the Champions League regulations states that fixtures in the competition must be played 'either at the ground of the home club or at another ground in the same city or another city within the territory of its association'.

Therefore, Edinburgh's Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby, is poised to benefit from Celtic's short-term homelessness.

The only avenue for switching a game to another jurisdiction is 'for reasons of safety or as a result of a disciplinary measure'.

Celtic had cited the relocation of a 1984 European Cup Winners tie with Rapid Vienna to Manchester as a precedent, but that was a punishment for crowd disturbances at Parkhead in the second leg of their tie. After winning on aggregate, the Hoops were forced into a replay by UEFA and the Austrians progressed.

A Celtic request to stage a match in Dublin would have presented the FAI with a headache. Abbotstown HQ have to sanction all football games played on Irish territory and it would have opened up the possibility of an embarrassing clash with St Patrick's Athletic's European adventures.

The prospect of the Scottish champions taking over the national stadium in the week that the domestic champions represented Ireland in the same competition – but with less fanfare in Inchicore – would have opened the authorities up to criticism.

Celtic could still draw the Saints in the early stages of the qualifiers. Neil Lennon's charges kicked off this year's campaign with a win over Northern Irish champions Cliftonville.

Irish Independent

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