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Potential Linfield v Celtic tie moved to July 14 over security concerns

  • 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.

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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.

See Sport back page

Belfast Telegraph


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Arson attacks on German railways spark security fears ahead of G20 summit

A departure board at the main train station in Dresden, eastern Germany, shows delays in traffic caused by the arson attack | Arno Burgi/AFP via Getty Images

There has been 12 seemingly coordinated incidents of arson nationwide on railroad tracks, police said.

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6/19/17, 12:49 PM CET

Updated 6/19/17, 1:43 PM CET

Rail traffic in parts of Germany was disrupted after seemingly coordinated arson attacks early this morning on segments of track, sparking security fears in the run-up to the G20 summit in Hamburg next month. Police in the Saxony region of Germany said there were 12 incidents of arson nationwide between 1 a.m . and 4:30 a.m . Monday on railroad tracks of national rail operator Deutsche Bahn. The statement said the police found fire in trackside cabling at each of the incidents and believe they were part of a coordinated plan .

German media cited3 security fears connected to the upcoming G20 meeting. An official at Deutsche Bahn said disruption was ongoing in the Leipzig area and on the track between L beck and Hamburg . Commuter services on Berlin s S-Bahn metro system also were disrupted and a spokesperson could not confirm when the problem would be resolved . Trains on the Cologne-Dortmund route were also disrupted, Deutsche Bahn said, and no services were running on the stretch from Dresden to the Czech border a tight stretch of track frequently used by freight and passenger traffic. The attacks occurred three weeks ahead of the G20 meeting during which world leaders will meet in Hamburg for a two-day summit .

The Saxony police said a link with the G20 summit could not be ruled out. The Operational Center of Defense, which is based in Saxony and handles cases of extremism, is now investigating the incidents in cooperation with Germany s Federal Criminal Police Office. The incident comes a month after Deutsche Bahn was hit by a global malware attack4 that disrupted departure boards across the country.

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Stadium security increased for Welsh concerts after terror attacks

Security is being increased at concerts in Wales following the terror attacks in Manchester and London. Take That play to a sell-out crowd at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium tonight, with Robbie Williams, Justin Bieber and Coldplay taking to the stage in Cardiff over the next couple of months. Counter terrorism officers have been working with organisers at major venues across the country to ensure safety and security at upcoming events.

Police have also issued advice for concert goers . They say to arrive early to allow time for extra security checks, to be patient with searches, and to help the staff help you – they are there to make sure people are safe. They add it’s important that unnecessary items aren’t taken to the event . A number of things are banned from tonight’s Take That concert, like bottles, including perfume, large bags and umbrellas. There’s also a reminder for everyone to remain vigilant .

Event attendees are being encouraged to report people acting suspiciously and suspect items. There are a number of key music and sporting events in South Wales in the coming weeks which will attract large crowds . We will continue to work with the organisers and review our response to these events depending on the intelligence and information which we receive.

Our priority is to maintain a visible and reassuring presence in our communities and we will continue to provide the response the public would expect in order to keep them safe. People going to these events will see both unarmed and overtly armed officers on patrol and we will also be using tactics which are not obvious to the public but are designed to keep them safe.

Assistant Chief Constable Richard Lewis, South Wales Police

Though the chance of being caught in a terrorism incident is small, the police say, if something does happen, it’s vital to listen to staff and any announcements . Organisers will have emergency plans in place to keep everyone safe.