Glasgow Warriors set to nominate Celtic Park as final venue

Celtic Park
Celtic Park

Celtic Football Club could host this year’s RaboDirect PRO12 Grand Final if Glasgow Warriors and Ulster were to reach the May 31 showdown, the News Letter can reveal.

Organisers of the competition will confirm later on Thursday if Celtic Park is the nominated ground of the Scottish region should they defeat Munster on Friday in the first of the semi-finals.

Celtic Park in Glasgow's East End.

Celtic Park in Glasgow's East End.

Ulster travel to the RDS, Dublin, on Saturday evening, to take on table toppers and defending champions, Leinster.

RaboDirect PRO12 determine the venue for the Grand Final, however the team finishing highest in the league stage competing in the final is able to propose a venue within its own Union’s jurisdiction (which may include the team’s own ground) to host the Final, provided that the venue meets certain commercial criteria and has capacity for a minimum of 18,000 spectators.

If Leinster win they will, because they finished top of the table at the end of the regular season, have the right to stage the final at the RDS.

But if Ulster defeated them, the option to stage the final would go to the next highest finisher to qualify.

Glasgow finished second and, provided they defeated Munster on Friday, could then stage the final at a nominated ground of their choice.

Glasgow’s home ground, Scotstoun, is too small and with Murrayfield, Ibrox (Rangers FC), Hampden Park, Firhill (Partick Thistle FC) and Rugby Park (Kilmarnock FC) all unavailable for various reasons, the 60,000-plus capacity Celtic Park is the only other option available at this stage.

The News Letter understands that Glasgow have been in discussions with Celtic FC - the Scottish Premier League Football champions - but there may be a football tournament due to be taking place the following day.

Last week there was speculation the new Ravenhill Stadium could host the final provided Glasgow and Ulster were in the final.

However, the News Letter also understands that at this stage if Celtic Park was not available the organisers would tell Glasgow the final would be played in Belfast.

That may seem unfair to the Scots, but a precedent was set last year.

Ulster finished top during the regular season but had to nominate the RDS, Dublin, as their venue for the final if they progressed.

Having defeated Scarlets at Ravenhill in the semi-final, Ulster went through to ironically meet Leinster, who defeated Glasgow in their semi, in the final.

It gave Leinster home advantage for the showdown and they went on to lift the title.

Of course there may be no debate over the issue as Munster could still win in Glasgow and that would at least give them a 50 per cent chance of staging the final at Thomond Park, Limerick - that option would probably rest easier with Ulster fans.