CELTIC will not be allowed to play their first Champions League qualifying matches of next season in Dublin or at a Premiership stadium in the north of England.
Celtic Park will not be available given that it will host the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games on 23 July, after which the pitch will have to be relaid. It will not be ready for use for some weeks afterwards but should be ready for a Champions League play-off round, should Celtic negotiate their earlier ties.
However, UEFA said yesterday that only “extreme circumstances” permit clubs to play their games outside of the home jurisdiction and made clear that the Commonwealth Games did not qualify.
Murrayfield is now the front-runner to host the games, not least because of its huge capacity and also because of its close proximity to Glasgow. “Murrayfield is a big attraction clearly because it is near for the supporters, it’s a fantastic stadium and that would be a high contender,” added Lawwell. “That would be the only Scottish option I think. A very high contender. Neil [Lennon] would have an impact on the decision and we would need to look at ways of making sure the atmosphere was there and it was well attended.”
One way or another, the decision will be made early in the new year.