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Celtic confirm move to Edinburgh

CELTIC will play their first two qualifying rounds for next season's Champions League at Murrayfield stadium in Edinburgh.

The SPFL Premiership champions-elect, who play Kilmarnock at Rugby Park this evening, had been required to look for an alternative venue with Celtic Park being used for the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games on July 23 and the pitch likely to need subsequently relaid.

With Hampden Park and Ibrox also out of commission because of their involvement in the Games, Celtic have announced they will play their first two European ties at the home of Scottish rugby - assuming they finish this season as champions. Celtic currently have a 21-point lead over second-placed Aberdeen with 10 matches left to play.

Like this season, they will need to overcome three qualifying ties if they are to reach the Champions League group phase, starting with the second round in mid-July. Should they progress beyond that they will play their third qualifying round tie in late July/early August again at Murrayfield, before returning to Celtic Park for the play-off round in late August. A club statement described the use of the 67,000-capacity Murrayfield, due to have a hybrid "Grassmasters" pitch laid, as "the logical choice".

"We felt it important that our fans know our proposed arrangements as early as possible," said Peter Lawwell, the Celtic chief executive. "We are fortunate that we have such a fantastic and sizeable support and it is important that we allow as many fans as possible to attend our matches. Murrayfield is a magnificent stadium, it's the obvious choice and we're sure it will be a venue which will provide a great footballing occasion."

Dominic McKay, Scottish Rugby's director of communications, added: "This is a fantastic opportunity for Celtic to work with us to promote Murrayfield as a venue not just for rugby, in 2014."

Celtic had looked into taking the ties to Dublin's Aviva Stadium or to one of the larger Barclays Premier League grounds, but UEFA ruled the matches should be played in Scotland.

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