Celtic Park to host 2019 Guinness PRO14 rugby final in historic first

Celtic Park will host the 2019 Guinness PRO14 final next May after a deal was struck to host the showpiece event at a non-rugby venue for the first time in the competition's history.

Celtic Park will host the 2018/19 Guinness PRO14 final. Picture: SNS Group

Tournament organisers have confirmed the fixture will take place at the home of Celtic on May 25.

It is the second time Scotland has hosted the final, with Connacht defeating Leinster 20-10 at BT Murrayfield in Edinburgh in the 2015/16 fixture.

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Celtic Park, which opened in 1892, hosted athletics, cycling and other sports prior to World War I, and was chosen as the venue for the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games held in the city.

It is yet to play host to a rugby union fixture, but was the venue for a rugby league match between Australia and England in 1909.

Over the last month or so, the arena has undergone renovations including a revamped sound and light system and at 60,832 its total capacity is nearly 10,000 more than the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, which has hosted the last two finals.

PRO14 Rugby CEO Martin Anayi described the deal as a “truly historic step”, adding: “Since introducing Destination Final venues in 2015 we have seen the event thrive by making it about fans of rugby and not just the supporters of the two teams competing for the trophy.

“The bid put forward by Scottish Rugby, Celtic FC and the City of Glasgow was compelling from the very beginning and we’re certain that fans across the Guinness PRO14 will share in our excitement.

“Glasgow has so much to offer in terms of hospitality, culture and heritage and like our previous Finals in Dublin, Edinburgh and Belfast we can offer fans so much more than just a rugby experience.

Dominic McKay, Scottish Rugby’s Chief Operating Officer and PRO14 board member, hailed the decision as “another great example of football and rugby working together”.

He said: “I’m delighted we’ve been able to secure the 2019 Guinness PRO14 Final for the city of Glasgow, which will see the showpiece event played at Celtic Park, an iconic football ground in the west of Scotland.

“We hosted an outstanding Final for the Championship in Edinburgh two years ago and I’m delighted that we will be able to build on this in a city where rugby is really taking off thanks to Glasgow Warriors and our local rugby clubs.

“Rugby was a huge success in Glasgow for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, while Rugby Park and Pittodrie have also been great venues for Autumn Test matches over the years.”

Celtic chief Peter Lawwell said: “We are very proud that the Guinness PRO14 Final is coming to Celtic Park for what we’re sure will be a fabulous occasion for the city of Glasgow, rugby supporters and for Celtic.

“Celtic Park is a world-class venue and our success of hosting events in the 2014 Commonwealth games and on Champions League nights where we have welcomed some of the biggest names in world football, proves that the stadium can produce unforgettable experiences time after time.

“We look forward to welcoming rugby fans from far and wide to Paradise on 25 May to share in the atmosphere of Celtic Park, we are sure it is an experience they will enjoy immensely.”

Celtic Park was mooted as a potential venue for the fixture in May, while the addition of Southern Kings and Toyota Cheetahs has raised the prospect of the final taking place in South Africa in the future.

Seven of the eight finals staged since the play-off system was introduced in 2009/10 have been hosted in Ireland.