Shelbourne settle for Tranmere

 

Tranmere Rovers have agreed to stage the UEFA Cup tie between Shelbourne and Glasgow Rangers next Wednesday at their 16,700 all-seater stadium at Prenton Park.

Shelbourne negotiated for two days for a new location for their home tie because of security concerns over the Tolka Park fixture.

Rangers are to be limited to 7,000 tickets, 1,000 Shelbourne fans are expected to make the trip, and Tranmere's season-ticket holders are next in line for tickets.

Shelbourne met representatives from Tranmere, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and UEFA at Birkenhead yesterday morning and decided on Tranmere as the best alternative for the first-round qualifying game. The final arrangements were made in close consideration with Merseyside police.

"We are greatly indebted to Tranmere Rovers and the Merseyside police for facilitating the staging of this most important tie," said Shelbourne director Colm Murphy. "It's a regret that we couldn't stage the tie in Dublin but we do acknowledge the support and co-operation from numerous sources over the past few days."

English First Division side Tranmere was agreed upon as the most neutral venue available and the FAI fully supported the decision. "We are extremely happy with the outcome of all the talks," said FAI president Pat Quigley.

Rangers chief executive Bob Brannan praised the way Shelbourne handled the sensitive issue. "We were more anxious for the safety of our fans travelling to and through Ireland rather than about them misbehaving," he said. "Shelbourne have been very keen to protect us and have had every respect in the way they have treated us in this situation."

Superintendent Paul Forrester of Merseyside police will be in charge of security at Prenton Park. He will also have a key role in the distribution of tickets and the volume of supporters allowed to travel to Birkenhead, especially the number of Rangers fans. "Public safety at Prenton Park is our prime concern for this match," he said.

The kick-off is set for 8.00 p.m. next Wednesday, with the second leg a week later at Ibrox Park. Details of ticket sales will be announced today.

Leicester manager Martin O'Neill is set to make Northern Ireland international Gerry Taggart his first signing of the summer.

The Bolton defender, who is out of contract, has agreed terms and will sign subject to a medical.

Bolton paid Barnsley £1.5million for the 27-year-old defender two years ago but he can now move as a free agent under the Bosman ruling.

He will join his Northern Ireland team-mate Neil Lennon at Filbert Street.