Potential Linfield v Celtic tie moved to July 14 over security concerns
A Belfast clash between Linfield and Celtic has been pencilled in for July 14 – avoiding the security nightmare of a powderkeg eve-of-Twelfth tie. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/potential-linfield-v-celtic-tie-moved-to-july-14-over-security-concerns-35856883.html
A Belfast clash between Linfield and Celtic has been pencilled in for July 14 – avoiding the security nightmare of a powderkeg eve-of-Twelfth tie. The Friday evening fixture, which would have a 5pm kick-off, was provisionally agreed after a high-level meeting yesterday.
It came after the Belfast Telegraph reported how the PSNI had stepped in to veto a proposed July 11 match. The sides are on course to meet for the first time in a Champions League qualifier – provided Linfield overcome La Fiorita from San Marino. But the prospect of Celtic coming to Windsor Park, and all the emotion that goes with it, has been front and back page news since Monday’s draw.
Even Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill got caught up in the excitement yesterday. Speaking on a visit to Belfast, he said: “We should note it’s a game that is only a possible game at this moment in time, but the Celtic tie is a huge carrot for Linfield to get beyond the San Marino side.
“I go back to when I was manager of (League of Ireland club) Shamrock Rovers in Europe and we had a game against an Israeli team, and the carrot for us was to play Juventus if we beat them and we got through the tie.
“That was brilliant and it would be the same for Linfield to play a massive club like Celtic in the Champions League.
“I think the Linfield players would enjoy the media attention that would come with it and I think it will be a great game if it comes to fruition.”
As long as Linfield overcome La Fiorita in their first-round clash, they will face the Scottish champions in a two-legged qualifier. They had been scheduled to play the home leg in Belfast on either July 11 or 12, but the prospect of a high-risk football match at the height of the marching season alarmed the PSNI.
Senior officers quickly ruled out staging it on either date. A meeting between officials from both clubs and police was held yesterday, with the July 14 date being fixed. Discussions were ongoing last night on whether Celtic would take up their allocation of tickets for a match in Belfast . It is understood Linfield are happy to have away fans at the game, and would accept tickets for the return tie in Glasgow, if it happens.
Celtic were represented at the meeting yesterday by their head of security Ronnie Hawthorn. Also present were Linfield chairman Roy McGivern and representatives from the PSNI and Police Scotland. Sources said July 12 had been ruled out from the start . July 11 was also deemed impossible .
Alternative dates of July 10 and July 13 were discussed, but both were also considered problematic. Eventually July 14 was settled on, with the 5pm kick-off a police decision. Mr McGivern said: “I’m pleased that both clubs and all parties have worked together to reach an amicable solution and we would host the first leg in Belfast as drawn.”
If the tie goes ahead, Linfield stand to make around 1 million.
They have already been assured of live TV coverage, with BT Sport one of three broadcasters interested in securing the rights . Adding intrigue is the fact that Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers is from Co Antrim . Also, Linfield boss David Healy played for the Bhoys’ bitter rivals Rangers during his career.
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Celtic v Linfield: Security fears over potential Belfast clash on July 11 – should venue be switched to Glasgow? BelfastTelegraph.co.uk
Police are facing the security nightmare of a possible powderkeg clash between Linfield and Celtic in Belfast – on the eve of the Twelfth celebrations. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport/football/european/celtic-v-linfield-security-fears-over-potential-belfast-clash-on-july-11-should-venue-be-switched-to-glasgow-35844760.html
Police are facing the security nightmare of a possible powderkeg clash between Linfield and Celtic in Belfast – on the eve of the Twelfth celebrations.
The sides are on course to meet in what would be a highly-charged fixture at Windsor Park on July 11 . They will clash at the second stage of qualifying for the Champions League on the Eleventh Night if the Blues beat a little-known side from San Marino in the opening round . The PSNI confirmed it is in discussions over a potential tie, which would come at a time when tensions are already running high around parades.
One option is moving the game forward from 7.45pm to a 5pm kick-off, although that would still require a huge policing operation on a day when resources are already stretched. Andrew McQuillan, a crowd safety expert, said: “If you wanted to pick the worst possible day to hold a match like that, it’s probably July 11.
“There are other competing factors for policing and security right across Northern Ireland on that day and that week.
“It’s also one of the highest-risk games in terms of security that we have had here for some time.”
However, Linfield officials insisted they are confident the tie will go ahead without incident, and are looking forward to what will be one of the biggest games in the club’s history. Blues chairman Roy McGivern said security issues would be discussed in the coming days, but said he had no concerns about staging a game on July 11.
“There will be discussions to be had with Celtic and Uefa and so on about the dates, and we’ll have discussions over the coming days with the PSNI about any potential issues, but that will be managed and that will be looked after,” he said.
“At the moment all I am thinking about is the footballing side of things.
“We will deal with any other issues over the coming days with all of those who will be involved in the planning for what would be a huge game.”
Linfield, managed by ex-Rangers striker David Healy, were paired with La Fiorita of San Marino in yesterday’s draw for the first round of Champions League qualifiers. If the Blues progress they will play Celtic, managed by Northern Ireland’s Brendan Rodgers, for the first time. The first leg had been scheduled to take place in Belfast on July 11 or 12, although it is understood that staging the game on the Twelfth has already been ruled out.
Linfield have proposed an early kick off of 5pm or 5.30pm. Another option considered by police is switching the two legs, and staging the first match in Glasgow, and the return in Belfast on July 18 or 19, to avoid a clash with the Twelfth . However, Linfield and Celtic officials are understood to be content for the first leg to go ahead in Belfast as planned.
PSNI Operations Superintendent for Belfast Norman Haslett said: “We are aware of the possibility of a Belfast fixture next month between Linfield and Celtic.
“We are currently in discussions with UEFA and Linfield FC about the details of the event.”
Yet others fear that, with feelings already running high, the tie has the potential for trouble. Mr McQuillan cited the clashes between Northern Ireland and Poland fans in Belfast eight years ago as evidence of how tension can easily spill over. Supporters clashed with police at a roundabout at the bottom of Tates Avenue, outside Windsor Park, after the March 2009 tie, which Northern Ireland won 3-2.
“If you look back to that game, the streets became rat runs.
“It requires intensive policing,” he added. “The problem is it’s in a very bad area for what is already a contentious flashpoint.
“That could easily spill over on the day .
It will be one of the most significant policing operations for a football match here in recent memory.”
However, officials at both teams are determined that any concerns over security will not overshadow one of the biggest and most eagerly-anticipated club games ever staged in Northern Ireland. A clash with Celtic, if it materialises, would lift Linfield’s profile and provide a huge financial boost, generating hundreds of thousands of pounds through prize money, ticket sales and TV rights. Mr McGivern, who said it would be one of the biggest games in Linfield’s history, was unable to estimate how much a game against Celtic could be worth.
“It’s a huge draw financially for the club .
Already being in the Champions League is very rewarding, and you factor in all the other things I mentioned,” he added. “For an Irish League part-time club it’s massive.”
Uefa and Celtic were contacted yesterday but did not respond to requests for comment.
- ^ Email (www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- ^ Fans excited but apprehensive ahead of possible dream match (www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- ^ Forget the tribalism and salute the success of two local heroes (www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
Call for Belfast City Hall security to be increased after heroin addict is seen ‘shooting up’ in iconic building
Call for Belfast City Hall security to be increased after heroin addict is seen ‘shooting up’ in iconic building
Fears are growing that Belfast City Hall is becoming a hub for illicit drugs activity after it was claimed a heroin addict was seen shooting up in a toilet. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/call-for-belfast-city-hall-security-to-be-increased-after-heroin-addict-is-seen-shooting-up-in-iconic-building-35835915.html
Fears are growing that Belfast City Hall is becoming a hub for illicit drugs activity after it was claimed a heroin addict was seen shooting up in a toilet. A council employee said they then saw the man fleeing half-naked in full view of tourists and visitors shortly before lunchtime on Tuesday.
Belfast City Council admitted that drug-taking paraphernalia was found in the City Hall toilets, while sources have told the Belfast Telegraph that drugs are a huge problem in the landmark building. The upsurge in illegal activity has coincided with a hike in visitor numbers, particularly with the exhibition centre in the west wing attracting more people through its doors.
There are plenty of hidey-holes for drug addicts to make use of, a City Hall insider told this newspaper.
There s also a daily and nightly gathering of drugs users at the Cenotaph. The eyewitness, who asked to remain anonymous, said they saw the man taking heroin before running out of the toilets on the ground floor of City Hall near the main entrance with his trousers hanging off him and no top on .
The shooting-up incident happened a day after a man in his 30s died from a suspected overdose in the toilets of a KFC restaurant in north Belfast. High Sheriff of Belfast Tom Haire revealed that he has had people removed from the Cenotaph for drinking alcohol, and called for increased security and more cameras at City Hall.
With increasing numbers of people around and in light of recent terror attacks in England, we need to bolster security both inside and outside the grounds, he said.
Our security staff do an excellent job, but we need more manpower, and although there already is CCTV in City Hall, we could do with bringing more cameras in. Mr Haire said he was familiar with problems of people gathering at the Cenotaph and said he was in favour of closing it off to the public.
My office overlooks the Cenotaph and I actually had to call security to ask them to remove half-a-dozen people drinking alcohol there, he said.
The DUP politician also said there should be a review of public toilet provision in the area because City Hall is often the first port of call for people who have no business being there . Councillor Jim Rodgers said he was becoming increasingly concerned about the city s drugs problem and he backed calls for security to be beefed up.
I ve had many complaints about people taking drugs not just within City Hall itself, but in the grounds as well and there has been a rise in the number of people using the loos to take drugs, said the Ulster Unionist.
Drugs is a major problem and we must do everything we can to address it.
I certainly don t want someone to be found dead from an overdose on council premises or anywhere else. UUP colleague Jeff Dudgeon said the incident was the downside of City Hall being widely open to the public.
There is a problem with heroin in the city and drugs misuse generally, he said.
We have significant security at City Hall, but you can t stand over everyone walking in and out.
Councillor Tommy Sandford said the unfortunate incident was something that every one of us should be worried about .
Hopefully it s a one-off . I m just sorry that it happened at all, he added. Belfast City Council said there was no attempt to pursue or apprehend anyone, and the identity of the person or persons involved is not known to us .
We can confirm that drug-taking paraphernalia recently was found in the City Hall toilets, it added.
However, it is inaccurate to say that a person was disturbed in the act of injecting drugs.
We are liaising closely with the PSNI and will continue to do so . There have been occasional discoveries of drugs paraphernalia in the grounds, including the Cenotaph area, but we would stress these finds are occasional.
In all such matters, we liaise closely with the PSNI . The grounds are monitored by CCTV and we also employ a contracted security company to patrol the grounds.