North Belfast derby season finale switched from Seaview to Solitude

Cliftonville will receive the Gibson Cup on Saturday
Cliftonville will receive the Gibson Cup on Saturday

The Northern Ireland Football League has confirmed that Saturday’s North Belfast derby between Crusaders and Cliftonville has been switched from Seaview to Solitude.

The game will now be played at Cliftonville’s home ground following agreement between both clubs.

It means the Reds – who clinched the Premiership title on Tuesday – will lift the Gibson Cup in front of their home fans.

The decision – which has been ratified by the NIFL – means almost 3,000 Cliftonville fans will get to see the presentation of the trophy.

Crusaders – who have already qualified for Europe – will also benefit financially from a larger gate.

Saturday will see the Reds lift back-to-back titles for the first time in the club’s history.

Cliftonville said in a statement issued on Wednesday night that they had “acceded to a request by Crusaders” to host the final fixture of the season at Solitude.

In a separate statement, Crusaders chairman Stephen Bell said the decision was a “one off solution for a one off problem”.

Bell added: “Demand for tickets have been significant for what is now a celebratory event. However, demand has the potential to breach the Crusaders Football Club Safety Certificate.

“Following consultations with Cliftonville and relevant safety advisors it was agreed to switch the match to Solitude. Crusaders Football Club see this as a ‘one off’ solution to a ‘one off’ problem. No League competition issues arise and no precedent is being set. We look forward to accommodating all who wish to attend what we expect to be a family and community day out.”

The NIFL added: “By making this decision, a greater number of fans can now attend the match and celebrate the Danske Bank Premiership trophy presentation.”