Brendan Rodgers sad Celtic fans will not be present for Linfield game

Champions League qualifier in Belfast delayed due to Twelfth of July fears

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers: Celtic opted against taking its 3,000-strong ticket allocation for the game against Linfield. Photograph: Kelvin Boyles/ Inpho/Presseye

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers: Celtic opted against taking its 3,000-strong ticket allocation for the game against Linfield. Photograph: Kelvin Boyles/ Inpho/Presseye

 

Northern Ireland-born Glasgow Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has expressed sadness that the Scottish club’s fans will not be present for Friday night’s Champion League’s qualifier in Belfast with Linfield.

The first-leg tie had been scheduled for July 11th but was delayed on the grounds that it could heighten tensions during the Twelfth of July celebrations after discussions between the clubs and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Last month Celtic opted against taking its 3,000-strong ticket allocation; saying the PSNI had raised concerns about the influx of Scottish fans – though the PSNI subsequently said it was not involved in the decision.

“Contrary to some reports, the decision of Celtic FC not to accept their allocation of ‘away’ tickets for the game against Linfield in Belfast was a decision taken solely by the football club and was not made by PSNI,” said the police.

Saying it was “extremely surprised” by this, Celtic later this was not its “ understanding of the situation”, but added that “ there is nothing to be gained by commenting further until the tie has been played”.

Windsor Park has an 18,000-strong capacity but nowhere near this number is expected on Friday night. Belfast City Council has created a Celtic “fanzone” with a big TV screen beside the Devenish entertainment complex in the south of the city.