The first Celtic derby match of the season against Rangers will be scheduled later than its customary late August/early September fixture slot, The Scottish Mail on Sunday reports (05/07 print edition, page 155).

For the past two years, the early league match against the Ibrox outfit has taken place on the first weekend in September.

However, this season it will be played later in the calendar, according to the Mail on Sunday’s report.

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This is good news for fans who are holding out hope of a return to Celtic Park to see Neil Lennon’s Bhoys play a crucially important game for our ten-in-a-row chances.

Neil Lennon had previously backed calls for the fixture to take place later than normal because of the ongoing pandemic’s impact on crowds being allowed into football matches (The Glasgow Times).

Last month, SPFL secretary Iain Blair confirmed the match wouldn’t go ahead beyond week 11 of the Scottish Premiership season, telling BBC Radio Scotland: “The first one has to be somewhere between round one and round 11 and when you look at international and European dates there are only around four dates you can put it in.

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“You wouldn’t want to open the season with it due to Celtic being presented with the flag. I don’t think that is the best time to have an intense derby.

“It will be somewhere between games two and 11, the second one will be on the second of January and I have no idea when the third one will be but it will be before fixture 33.”

There will be curiosity then, ahead of tomorrow’s official fixture announcement, about the exact date this match will go ahead.

BBC Scotland reports that the full league schedule will be released at 9am on Monday.

Celtic captain Scott Brown with Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos

Celtic captain Scott Brown with Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It’s also expected that three live TV matches will be shown on the opening weekend, including Celtic’s home curtain-raiser.

Celtic have a score to settle with Rangers after defeat at Celtic Park in the last meeting between the two sides in December.

No doubt Scott Brown and company will be desperate to show just how dominant the team can still be in one-off matches against Steven Gerrard’s perennial trophy losers.

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