The SPFL's post-split thinking becomes clearer; Celtic fixture reversals could be required
With 31 games gone of Celtic’s league season, we’re quickly approaching the split.
Of course there’s the small matter of a derby at Ibrox and a game at home to St. Johnstone before then, but the international break gives us a chance to look forward and ponder what may be to come.
As I’m sure you’ll know, after 33 matchdays the Premiership splits in to two leagues of six – with five more matches for each team.
This system is not unique in Europe, but it’s certainly not the norm either.
Questions come up every year. Even more so when the title race is as close as this.
Already, speculation is rife about what teams Celtic will face after the split, and where we will face them.
Luckily, we’ve come across an interesting 2021 Q&A from the SPFL that may shed a little light on what’s to come.
Celtic could be sent to Hearts for a third time by the SPFL
The Q&A is with SPFL Company Secretary and Director of Operations Calum Beattie.
It’s from this time last year, but that is irrelevant as the same thinking will apply to the current campaign.
It answers some of the key questions about the split, and the thought that goes into some of the decisions that are made.
Depending on the sides that join ourselves, Rangers and Hearts in the top six, there could be a scenario where Celtic are sent away to a top-flight team for a third time this season.
Beattie explains: “Fixture reversals, to a greater or lesser extent, have been required in each of the 19 previous seasons the split has been used.
“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 avoid reversing the big city derby matches and also consider what has happened with the post-split fixtures in previous years.”
The big fear would be that it’s Tynecastle Celtic are forced to visit for a third time.
But Beattie’s comment about a “key impact” may mean the SPFL pick a team further down the league for a third home game against Celtic.
We do know a few things. Celtic will finish the season with 3 home and 2 away games. And one of those home matches will be against Rangers.
Hearts will also be an opponent for us, either home or away.
The rest is still up for grabs.