Almost 60,000 Celtic fans will ensure a ‘warm’ welcome for Linfield next week – with the sell-out crowd almost certainly creating a club record attendance figure for the Belfast Blues.
Although Linfield has drawn large crowds to local football during its 131 year history, as well as enjoying many memorable nights on the European stage, the July 19 clash with Celtic could overshadow them all in terms of audience and atmosphere.
The first leg of the European Champions League qualifying round tie will be played at Windsor Park in Belfast tomorrow (Friday, July 14) at 5pm.
Celtic has declined a ticket allocation for the club’s legion of fans due to concerns around safety and security.
The Glasgow club said it took the decision “following security concerns raised by the Police Service of Northern Ireland”.
In a message posted on Twitter on Wednesday (July 12), the PSNI rejected Celtic’s version of events.
“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 not by the PSNI,” the police said.
Celtic responded saying: “We are extremely surprised by this statement and the timing of the release. This is clearly not our understanding of the situation and we stand by our statement of 23 June.”
Around 10,000 are expected at Windsor Park for the home leg which was rescheduled from the original July 11/July12 slot allocated by UEFA.