SPFL secretary Iain Blair has confirmed a January 2nd date for Celtic’s trip to Ibrox in the second derby of the upcoming Scottish Premiership campaign, speaking on BBC Sportsound today.
The ongoing pandemic is threatening to cause severe fixture congestion next season meaning there could be significant changes to the regular league and cup schedules in Scotland.
Manager Neil Lennon and midfielder Callum McGregor had previously voiced their support for a delay in the first derby of the season to give it more of a chance to be played in front of fans.
However, Blair has ruled out that Celtic Park match either being played as a curtain-raiser or being delayed beyond week 11 of the top-flight season.
Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland on Saturday, the Hampden official said: “It wouldn’t have been possible for us to do it.
“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.
“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.”
That January 2nd date, which falls on a Saturday, will be Celtic’s first trip to Ibrox since September 1st 2019.
That’s the day Odsonne Edouard and Jonny Hayes scored goals to beat our rivals comfortably on their own patch.
Right now, it’s up in the air whether the early Celtic Park fixture will have a crowd in attendance.
Reports from The Scottish Daily Mail have indicated that the club are planning for 30,000 crowds by the end of August, which would likely be in time for the derby, but that feels like an optimistic appraisal right now.
However it shakes out, it’s really starting to feel like we are returning to some sort of normality in Scottish football.
Pre-season plans will ramp up next month, the full fixture calendar will be announced and it won’t be long at all until Neil Lennon’s Bhoys are back on the pitch.
Something to look forward to in dark times!