Stephen Baxter: Linfield fans boycott would be nonsense

Paul Healey of Crusaders and Linfield's Billy Joe Burns

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter has described a proposed boycott by Linfield fans of Saturday's match at Seaview as "the height of nonsense."

A group of Linfield supporters has called for the boycott in response to the court action taken by Crusaders over the redevelopment of Windsor Park.

The legal dispute between the Crues and the Irish FA has now been settled.

Baxter said: "Staying away would affect the atmosphere of an Irish league game. Linfield fans are bigger than that."

Crusaders took the High Court action because they felt the government funding of the Linfield-owned stadium would hand the Blues an unfair financial advantage over rival clubs.

However, an agreement has since been thrashed out, with the other Premiership clubs sharing additional cash to be distributed through the new Northern Ireland Football League.

It would appear, though, that some ill-feeling between the clubs may still exist.

At a league game last April, Crusaders officials sat with the away fans in Windsor's north stand, saying they had been told they were not welcome in the Linfield boardroom.

A group called the Linfield Supporters Advisory Forum issued a media statement last week describing the legal action as a petty, vindictive attack on the club's achievements.

The group said fans should stay away to hit Crusaders financially.

Crues manager Baxter said he hoped the issue could be resolved.

"Linfield fans need to be at Seaview on Saturday - they need to be at all their team's matches, just as we need to be at their ground.

"Everybody needs to support each other. This is a game of football, not a matter of life and death.

"We are all in this together, a family of football people, and to boycott games at this level of football is just the height of nonsense.

"We have no issue with it, they should have no issue with it."