FIRST Linfield FC refused to sell tickets for their Co Antrim Shield final clash against Crusaders.
Now Glentoran Football Club says it has “reluctantly decided to reject the opportunity” to host next month’s final at its Oval ground in east Belfast.
It lays the blame for its decision at the door of Linfield for refusing to sell tickets which it says put the health and safety of fans at risk.
In a statement, the club says: “Glentoran had agreed to the County Antrim FA’s request to host the final on the clear understanding that the game was to be all ticket.
“While the club understands the frustration of supporters for all ticket games we believed, on this occasion, that ticketing was necessary to avoid any risks to our club’s Safety Certificate and also to avoid unnecessary high costs for additional stewarding. This was agreed with the County Antrim FA.
“The subsequent refusal by Linfield FC to sell tickets to Linfield supporters has fundamentally changed the situation.
“Glentoran cannot agree to any action that risks a reduction in our current ground capacity.
“This would have negative financial implications for the club and could prevent many of our supporters from attending more high profile matches at the Oval.
Additionally there is a very real prospect of social disorder caused by a high number of supporters arriving at the Oval without tickets and being refused admission.
“We have a long standing obligation to our host community within East Belfast so therefore we cannot irresponsibly put the area at risk of social disorder.
£Once again we regret the necessity to take this decision. However our priorities as always remain with our own supporters and with the people of East Belfast,” the statement added.