Champions League: Uefa confirms date for potential Linfield v Celtic game

Linfield captain Jamie Mulgrew lifts the Gibson Cup after the Premiership title was secured
Linfield captain Jamie Mulgrew lifts the Gibson Cup after the Premiership title was secured

Celtic's potential Champions League qualifier first leg with Irish Premiership winners Linfield will take place on Friday, 14 July in Belfast.

The date was for the Windsor Park match was confirmed by Uefa on Friday.

The traditional Tuesday and Wednesday slot used by Uefa will be set aside as the first leg coincides with the 'Twelfth' marches in Northern Ireland.

The new date had been agreed by the clubs and approved by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Linfield must first defeat La Fiorita of San Marino in a first-round clash.

The Northern Ireland champions will host La Fiorita in Belfast on 28 June, with the return leg on 4 July.

If the Blues progress they will play the 1967 European Cup winners, who are managed by County Antrim-born Brendan Rodgers, for the first time.

Celtic's treble-winning manager Brendan Rodgers began his playing career with Irish Premiership side Ballymena United
Celtic's treble-winning manager Brendan Rodgers began his playing career with Irish Premiership side Ballymena United

The first leg of the Champions League second round qualifiers are scheduled to take place on 11-12 July.

However they are key dates in the annual Orange celebrations, sparking fears of trouble with Celtic's large travelling support heading to Belfast at the height of the marching season.

Linfield's national stadium is located in the largely loyalist Donegall Road area.

Police are understood to have ruled out the match taking place on either 11 or 12 July amid concerns tensions could erupt between Celtic and Linfield fans.

A possible solution to the dilemma would have been to switch the ties, with Celtic hosting the opener in Glasgow before the return a week later.

Linfield dismissed that possibility as they look to cash in on the right to host the all-important first leg, Blues chairman Roy McGivern telling BBC Sport a home leg first was always "the preferred choice" of the Irish Premiership champions.

Celtic defeated Irish League opposition in Belfast four years ago with a 3-0 win over Cliftonville in a Champions League qualifier.

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