Wednesday 22 November 2017

Celtic's potential Champions League trip to Linfield scheduled to follow The Twelfth

A general view of Windsor Park ahead of the FIFA World Cup Group C Qualifier match between Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
A general view of Windsor Park ahead of the FIFA World Cup Group C Qualifier match between Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Andy Newport

Celtic's potential powder-keg Champions League qualifier with Northern Irish champions Linfield in Belfast has now been pencilled in for July 14, Press Association Sport understands.

The Parkhead giants will kick-off their bid to reach the group stage next month and will face the winners of the Blues' first-round qualifying clash with San Marino minnows La Fiorita.

But the usual Tuesday/Wednesday slot set aside by Uefa for the first-leg clash with Linfield - should they progress - on July 11 or 12 - key dates in annual Orange celebrations - would have seen Celtic's large travelling support heading to Windsor Park at the height of the marching season, sparking fears of trouble.

Now, however, after talks between the governing body, the clubs and the Police Service of Northern Ireland the game is set to go ahead on Friday the 14th.

Police are understood to have ruled out the match taking place on either the 11th or 12th amid concerns tensions could erupt between the Hoops fans and Linfield's loyalist faithful.

A possible solution to the dilemma would have been to switch the ties, with Celtic hosting the opener in Glasgow before crossing the Irish Sea for the return a week later.

But Linfield dismissed that possibility as they look to cash in on the right to host the all-important first leg.

Press Association

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