The SPFL guidance crucial to Celtic post-split fate; another away day clincher on the agenda
The post-split fixtures dished out to Celtic this season could be interesting.
Ange Postecoglou‘s Hoops still have four ‘regular season’ matches to navigate before the league splits into two for the final five fixtures of the campaign.
With a nine point advantage at the top and a derby at Celtic Park in a matter of weeks, the league could technically be over by matchday 34.
But regardless, it’s going to be interesting how the SPFL deal with a minor issue.
The five teams currently occupying positions 2-6 in the table are all due another home match against us to round of the campaign.
Rangers, Hearts, Aberdeen, Hibernian and Livingston will all have ventured to Celtic Park twice by the time the split comes around.
But the governing body aims to have every team play 19 matches home and away. That means Celtic will be due two home post-split fixtures.
As a result, some teams could be asked to visit Celtic Park for a third time.
An SPFL Q&A from last year offers some guidance the factors they consider when “reversing” fixtures.
“We generally aim for the fewest switches possible and try to avoid reversing fixtures that have a key impact on the league title, the race for Europe and the battle to avoid relegation, but this is not always possible.
“We try to avoid reversing the big city derbies and may also take into account what has happened with the post-split fixtures in previous years.”
So, from that, we can deduce that the derby against Rangers won’t be one of the matches reversed.
It is likely that Livingston, should they qualify, would be one of the games reversed, due to the match having the least consequences.
Beyond that, who knows. St. Mirren, currently in seventh, are also in the reckoning for a top six spot. We would be due to face them in Glasgow, having visited Paisley twice already this campaign.
Assuming Celtic can continue their relentless form and win the league, the next question might be where and when the triumph will be sealed.
Matchday 38 would likely be ‘Trophy Day’ – a home match – meaning that three of our other four post-split fixtures would be on the road.
Assuming that the league isn’t wrapped up before the split, and doesn’t go until the final matchday, it would appear that another league clincher on the road is most likely.
Tannadice was where it was sealed last season Tynecastle, Easter Road, Pittodrie or Ibrox are potential options this time around although the SPFL and Police Scotland may look to avoid the latter.
Expect answers in the week beginning April 24th. We’ve got all of this to look forward to. Bring it on.