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Celtic to kick off their bid for ninth successive Premiership title against St Johnstone

Celtic will kick-off their quest for a ninth straight Ladbrokes Premiership title against St Johnstone on August 3.

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

And they see Neil Lennon’s side host Saints at Parkhead as they set off on their attempt to equal a feat only previously achieved by Jock Stein’s Hoops of the late 1960s and early 1970s and the 1990s Rangers team bossed by Walter Smith.

Jock Stein guided Celtic to nine straight league titles between 1966 and 1974

Jock Stein guided Celtic to nine straight league titles between 1966 and 1974 (PA)

Celtic have swept all aside over the last three years on their march to an unprecedented triple treble and the prospect of a 10th title in a row will be tantalisingly close if they can keep their winning run up over the next 12 months.

However, Rangers are more determined than ever to bring down their bitter rivals era of dominance.

Steven Gerrard’s side get their campaign up and running the following day as they take on Kilmarnock – who will have new boss Angelo Alessio in charge for the first time in domestic competition – at Rugby Park.

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The first Old Firm battle of the new term could be vital in shaping the title race and it is scheduled for Ibrox over the fourth weekend on August 31, although all dates are subject to change for television broadcast purposes.

Gers head to Celtic Park on December 29, while the third derby is back at Ibrox over the weekend of March 14. The fourth and final league meeting between the Glasgow giants will likely take place at Parkhead following the top-flight split.

Newly-promoted Ross County will hoist the flag following last year’s Championship triumph when they get their season started at home to Hamilton on August 3.

The first Old Firm battle of the season takes place at Ibrox over the weekend of August 31

The first Old Firm battle of the season takes place at Ibrox over the weekend of August 31 (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Aberdeen – who lost their grip on their ‘best of the rest’ tag last season after seeing their four-year run of second place finishes come to an end – host Hearts on the opening day while Hibernian will be hoping to kick-on as Paul Heckingbottom shapes up for his first full season in charge as they welcome St Mirren to Leith.

Motherwell travel to Livingston for their opener hoping to be flush with cash from the impending £3.25million sale of David Turnbull to Celtic.

Should the deal go through, Turnbull could be set for an early return to Fir Park, with Celtic due to visit Lanarkshire on match-day two. Rangers will stage their first Ibrox clash against Hibs over the same weekend of August 10.

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Easter Road will be the setting for the opening Edinburgh derby showdown between Hibs and Hearts on September 21 with the Tynecastle return set for Boxing Day. The capital rivals meet again in Leith in a midweek card pencilled in for March 4.

The final round of fixtures before the split takes place on April 4, with Aberdeen against hosting Hearts, Celtic travelling to Hibs, Kilmarnock facing Livingston at Rugby Park, Rangers taking on Motherwell in Govan, County welcoming St Mirren to Dingwall and St Johnstone facing Accies in Perth.

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