Match between Rangers and Celtic in Northern Ireland proposed to bolster peace process in 1998

An Old Firm match in Northern Ireland in 1998 was proposed to bolster the peace process Credit: PA

Holding an Old Firm clash in Northern Ireland to bolster the peace process was proposed in 1998 newly released documents have shown.

Alastair Campbell, who is the former advisor and press secretary to Tony Blair's Labour government, wrote to the then Prime Minister, Northern Ireland Secretary of State Mo Mowlam and Scotland Secretary of State Donald Dewar to suggest the idea.

Mr Campbell said the match could take place in the build-up to the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement and even went as far as to propose that the two sides could wear each other’s shirts for the game.

He said that he had a “direct in” to Celtic and that he would be able to get then-Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson to approach Rangers.

The letter Alistair Campbell wrote Credit: National Archive

He wrote: “An idea. What about organising a match between Rangers and Celtic, in Belfast, in the final days of the referendum campaign.

“It would be a unique event in its own right, but we could add to it by getting Celtic to wear Rangers strips, and Rangers to wear Celtic strips (though one or two of the Rangers players to my certain knowledge, may have difficulty with this).

“However, both in terms of raising publicity for the campaign, and in sending out a message, it would be very powerful.”

Campbell continued: “I have a direct in to Celtic, while I can get Alex Ferguson to approach at the Rangers end.

“Before I proceed, do you and Mo think it is worth pursuing even if, given end of season commitments, it may not be possible to get all the big names there? Let me know.”