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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 7, 2007

Milan-Celtic 2nd leg set for neutral venue?

UEFA have claimed AC Milan could stage the home leg of their Champions League clash with Celtic in France or Switzerland.

Last week's violent scenes at the Serie A Sicilian derby, where a policeman died, could have the short-term effect of closing several Italian stadiums, including the San Siro in Milan, to supporters.

The second leg of the last-16 clash between Celtic and Milan is scheduled for March 7, however the hopes of supporters from either club being allowed to attend in the Italian city are in danger of being dashed.

Both AC Milan and Inter, who also play at the San Siro, could play the remainder of this season's home league games behind closed doors should the government stand by their proposal on safety in stadia.

The lack of supporters could have a crippling financial impact, but AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani said: 'If the authorities confirm their decision is final, we will have to play behind closed doors.'

However UEFA spokesman William Gaillard revealed Milan are keen to switch the second-leg match against Celtic to a neutral venue.

He told Sky Sports News: 'We want to know in particular what measures will apply to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza (San Siro) and we're ready to consider all hypotheses.

'We know Milan would rather play on neutral ground in France or Switzerland than play behind closed doors in Milan.'

Gaillard stressed that Milan's home ground was far better set up to accommodate supporters than Catania's Angelo Massimino stadium, where troubled flared last week during and after the derby against Palermo.

He also expressed a belief, one which was contradicted by Milan officials, that stadium officials could make minor improvements in the next weeks in order to meet the demands of the Italian government.

UEFA are determined to resolve the issue of where such an important match will be played, to avoid four weeks of uncertainty for the clubs and supporters, who run the risk of booking expensive trips and finding their access to the San Siro blocked, or the match being played elsewhere.

'Since there is uncertainty for both clubs it is a little bit of a difficult situation, but we feel we can find a solution that is adequate and acceptable for both clubs,' said Gaillard.

Milan chief Galliani believes the required work at the San Siro cannot be completed until the start of next season.

'They certainly will not be finished before October,' said Galliani.

'The San Siro is one of the biggest stadia and the work will not be finished before the end of the season.

'AC Milan and Inter have done everything possible, but there is nothing we can do to speed up the process.'

It is understood that only five stadia in Serie A currently meet the required standard - the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, the Artemio Franchi in Siena, the Stadio Olimpico in Turin, Renzo Barbera in Palermo, Sampdoria's Luigi Ferraris and Messina's San Filippo.

The Italian government will tomorrow announce details of the security measures all football clubs in the country must adopt.

Italian football commissioner Luca Prandelli has confirmed that those rules implemented by the government will take effect immediately and stadia which meet the safety guidelines in the future will have their supporter bans lifted.

'The security problem is the number one priority,' said Pancalli.

'Watching the football comes later. I obviously speak about safety for everyone, from officers, to fans, executives, referees, coaches and players.'

Celtic expect the picture to become clear tomorrow.

A statement from the club confirmed: 'The club has been in regular contact with both AC Milan and UEFA, and we are awaiting final confirmation with regards to our forthcoming match in Milan, which we expect tomorrow.

'Clearly there is no benefit in speculating further at this moment.

'We will inform our supporters as soon as we have definitive information from the relevant authorities.'