SPFL to write to Celtic as Hampden official issues 'nightmare' 2020/21 warning

By John McGinley

June 26, 2020

Scottish football is facing a fixture congestion nightmare next season as the SPFL prepare to issue guidance on matches around UEFA and international competitions, The Daily Record reports.

The paper say that from August 1st there are 71 potential fixture slots in 2020/21 prior to the top-flight split.

However, a massive 37 of those have to be allocated to competitions outside of the Scottish Premiership meaning there is very little wiggle room when it comes to the league.

It’s a situation that is seriously concerning for SPFL secretary Iain Blair who has ominously predicted some clubs may have to play four matches in eight days in some sections of the coming season.

He is now set to write to clubs informing them of the congestion issues.

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As quoted by The Daily Record, Blair said of the situation: “The stress on the SPFL fixture calendar next season is going to be enormous, with a real risk that some clubs will be forced to play four games in eight days, which we always try to avoid. And that’s even before we consider the impact of the Scottish winter and the high risk of cancelled matches due to adverse weather.

“We have already been obliged to cancel the winter break next season because we absolutely needed those extra three potential match dates, but even with that, I think it is going to be tighter than at any time in my 22 years working for the SPFL.

“There is a very real risk that several SPFL teams will be forced to play four matches in eight days – and perhaps more than once – which would be a nightmare for players and fans alike.

“I’m afraid to say there are real and justified fears over the resilience of the forthcoming current fixture schedule, given everything the game is dealing with currently. I will be writing to clubs shortly to explain the various factors we are balancing and I know from my discussions with club secretaries that they understand our shared predicament.”

Given Celtic, in a successful season, play lots of European qualifiers and group stage games as well as take part in prolonged cup campaigns, we are likely to be one of the most impacted clubs in the SPFL.

Neil Lennon’s Bhoys may have the hardest ever run of fixtures across the coming season as we go for an unprecedented tenth title in a row.

They are currently hard at work at Lennoxtown building their fitness and will need every minute of that preparation by the sounds of things.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon with the league trophy / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

We have the resources to build a squad that is stronger than anyone else in Scotland but Lennon, more than ever, will have to manage that group expertly and ensure everyone is capable of contributing to the cause.

There’s no doubt about it, despite our dominance over the last decade, this season is going to be a battle for Celtic.