Celtic’s participation in the Scottish League Cup next season looks set to be delayed for months after Scottish Championship side Queen Of The South offered updated fixture guidance to supporters this week, via their official website.
Ordinarily Celtic would enter the competition in August at the start of the knockout rounds following a summer group phase.
However it seems that this initial stage of the tournament will not start until October, with matches set to kick-off from the 7th of that month, apparently to allow teams outwith the Scottish Premiership to fully prepare for a truncated season.
A statement from the Doonhammers’ board said, in part: “All being well it looks like we will make a return to action on the pitch from early October. With three Betfred cup matches pencilled in from the 7th and the Championship matches for season 2020/21 likely to commence on the 17th of October with teams playing 27 games.
“The SPFL are talking to clubs in league one and two to discuss their plans before issuing fixtures for the Betfred Cup. We would hope to have these fixtures and details of our league matches in the next few weeks.”
That means Celtic may not have a Second Round fixture until late October or even November, which is a month when the semi-finals are usually played.
This could all cause problems with our potential European schedule as UEFA are hoping to cram all Champions and Europa League group matches into a window from 20th October to early December.
Obviously it’s a very tricky situation for for the SPFL to navigate but hopefully sensible solutions can be found and there is communication on the issue as soon as possible.
The League Cup is seen as the lesser of the three domestic competitions that Celtic compete for but having won the trophy as part of trebles over the last few seasons, Lennon and his team clearly still care about lifting it.
Last year we beat Rangers in a nerve-wracking Hampden final, which was the springboard for greater domestic success.
We’ll be giving it all to defend that crown, whenever the matches are played.