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Celtic to start title defence against Hamilton as fixtures are revealed

Scott Brown File photo
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Celtic will kick off their bid for a historic 10th successive title at home to Hamilton on Sunday, August 2.

Fixtures for the forthcoming Scottish Premiership campaign were released on Monday morning by the Scottish Professional Football League.

Neil Lennon’s side were crowned nine-in-a-row champions last season when the campaign was curtailed prematurely by the coronavirus crisis.

Now the Hoops will set off in search of another record-breaking triumph when they welcome Brian Rice’s Accies to Celtic Park for their latest flag-raising celebration.

Steven Gerrard’s Rangers will be determined to halt their bitter rivals’ reign of domination as they start their season with a trip to face Aberdeen at Pittodrie the day before.

With fans still barred from grounds, the opening Old Firm clash of the season at Parkhead has been scheduled for Saturday, October 17 – a date subject to change for TV purposes – when SPFL chiefs are hopeful restrictions on social distancing may have been relaxed enough to allow some supporters through the turnstiles.

There will be extra poignancy on January 2 when Glasgow’s big two meet for their traditional New Year showdown in Govan as the clubs mark the 50th anniversary of the Ibrox disaster, while the third derby is back at Parkhead over the weekend of March 20.

Soccer – Ibrox Disaster 40th Anniversary – Ibrox

Rangers and Celtic will mark the 50th anniversary of the Ibrox disaster when they meet on January 2 (Lynne Cameron/PA)

Dundee United – who are reportedly set to announce Tranmere boss Micky Mellon as their new manager – will make their return to the top-flight after a four-year absence, so long as the legal challenge launched by relegated Hearts and Partick Thistle does not scupper their plans.

Tayside rivals St Johnstone are scheduled to be the Terrors’ first opponents at Tannadice on August 1, with Callum Davidson taking over from the departed Tommy Wright for the first time.

The opening day also sees Hibernian welcome Kilmarnock to Easter Road and St Mirren facing off against Livingston in Paisley, while Motherwell’s trip north to face Ross County in Dingwall has been pushed back until Monday, August 3.

The second round of fixtures sees Celtic travel to Kilmarnock on Sunday, August 9, while the day before Rangers’ first home match of the new campaign will be against Saints.

Also on August 8, Hamilton host County, Livi take on Hibs at the Tony Macaroni Arena, St Johnstone face Aberdeen in Perth and Fir Park is the setting for Well against United.

Meanwhile, the winter break has been scrapped as league chiefs aim to make room for cup ties left over from last season, with games scheduled to be played across the four weekends in January.

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “The pre-season fixture announcement is always a key event in every football supporter’s calendar, but it feels particularly important this year, given the challenges caused by Covid-19.

“Football plays a unique role in the social, cultural and economic life of Scotland, and I’m sure the millions of passionate fans who follow our game will welcome this significant step towards the resumption of matches.

“The unveiling of the 2020/21 Premiership fixtures will allow clubs and fans to start planning their schedules, but it must be stressed that they remain subject to approval from the Scottish Government for the restart of football in Scotland.

“That said, the timetable for a return to competitive action is now far clearer and clubs, players and supporters can begin to look forward to the opening day’s fixtures.”