SPFL confirm Premiership winter break brought forward as new date set for Old Firm derby

The full fixture card on Boxing Day WILL go ahead as planned in front of 500 spectators

A majority vote in favour of moving the winter break forward has been reached by Scottish Premiership clubs - but matches scheduled for Boxing Day will still go ahead with only 500 fans in attendance.

A three-week shut down will follow with fixtures previously on the calendar on December 29 and January 2-3 moved back to January 17-18 and February 1-2.

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That affects the Old Firm Derby between Celtic and Rangers at Parkhead, which will now take place on Wednesday 3 February with a kick-off 7.45pm.

Odsonne Edouard during his final game for Celtic prior to his move to Crystal Palace at the end of the summer transfer window. Picture: SNS

The SPFL board had been in discussions with clubs and relevant stakeholders, including broadcaster Sky Sports, after the Scottish Government imposed a spectator limit at outdoor sporting events amid rising Covid cases.

Top-flight clubs were due to start a scheduled winter break on January 4 but TEN of the 12 clubs were understood to minimise the number of games played in front of near-empty stadiums.

Rangers and Ross County are believed to be the two clubs who voted in preference of continuing to play in front of sparse crowds.

Clubs in the Scottish Championship. League One and League Two were asked if they wished to postpone fixtures but all three leagues have opted to play on.

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “We have had intense and positive discussions with all SPFL clubs over the past 24 hours, since the announcement by the Scottish Government of a three-week period of restrictions on fans attending matches,

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster has described the new restrictions on crowd sizes as a "hammer blow" for Scottish football (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

“We have advised our clubs that any postponements increase the risk of further disruption to an already highly congested fixture calendar.

“There are mixed views amongst Premiership clubs about what to do for the best.

“However, a majority favour the postponement of fixtures to give a chance for games scheduled to be played over the festive period to played in front of fans, once the three-week period of restrictions come to an end.

“The SPFL board has agreed to postpone the December 29 and New Year Premiership fixture cards.

“Championship, League 1 and League 2 clubs voted to continue playing through the Government restrictions and we look forward to their festive fixtures over the next fortnight.

“We would like to place on record our sincere thanks to Sky Sports and Police Scotland for their flexibility in accommodating these chances and to all SPFL clubs for their clear, positive and constructive feedback as we work together to get through the challenges posed by Covid-19.”

The re-scheduled Scottish Premiership fixtures affecting Glasgow-based clubs are as follows:

Monday 17 January

CELTIC Vs Hibernian

Tuesday 18 January

Aberdeen Vs RANGERS (live on Sky Sports)

Dundee United Vs ST MIRREN

Tuesday 1 February

ST MIRREN Vs Motherwell

Wednesday 2 February

CELTIC VS RANGERS (live on Sky Sports)

TODO: define component type HR

The revised date for the second Old Firm clash of the season could affect BOTH clubs with Celtic and Rangers now likely to be missing key players.

Hoops manager Ange Postecoglou could be without League Cup final hero Kyogo Furuhashi (Japan) and influential midfielder Tom Rogic (Australia), who are both expected to be called up for international duty ahead of their countries World Cup qualifiers.

Celtic's Tom Rogic and Kyogo Furuhashi during a training session ahead of tonight's match.

The international headache also affects the Ibrox club with boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst already planning for the match without African Cup of Nations bound Joe Aribo, Leon Balogun and Calvin Bassey.

The trio are regulars in the Nigeria team and if the Super Eagles progress deep into the tournament all three players would be missing for the February 2 clash.