SPFL face Celtic and Rangers post split fixture headache amid dramatic top six battle – Craig Swan

Celtic and Rangers going head-to-head in an exciting title race brings the usual arguments over decisions, moaning about refs and general tit-for-tat bickering.

Sadly for the SPFL, it also brings back the thorny issue of the split.

And the fairness, or perceived unfairness, of the fixtures for the final five games of the season.

Suffice to say, that can of worms which has been closed over for a decade due to one-sided romps could easily be ripped back open again.

It’s the worst nightmare for the fixture compilers. A situation which leaves one of them feeling hard done-by or they are being conned.

Glen Kamara and Liel Abada in action as Rangers face Celtic

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It’s finely-balanced with 180 minutes to go. It could all work out well for the SPFL – but, at the same time, it could well turn in a disaster zone.

The concept is to try and get each club 19 games at home and 19 away with an even share of two home and away.

When this season’s first section ends, Rangers will have had 17 home games and Celtic 16.

With the final derby due for Glasgow’s east end, that’ll even it up before the scheduling of the other four post-split matches and that’s where it can become extremely tricky.

If the table was being split right now, there’s a problem with Hearts, Dundee United, Hibs and Livingston occupying the other four spots.

Rangers have already had Hearts, Hibs and Livi at home twice. Celtic have had them all away once.

While the final fixtures against United would be even, there’s a problem with the other three.

Celtic could face a third fixture away at Tynecastle, Easter Road or the Tony Mac and Rangers may get one of them at home for a third time. At the moment, it is so tight between fourth and 10th that anything could happen and it might all work out perfectly for the league.

If, for example, Ross County and Aberdeen join Dundee United in the top six at the expense of Hibs and Livi, pieces might fall into place.

Dundee United’s top six finish could prove cruicial

Rangers will have been away to Dingwall twice and are due them at home. They’d also be due an game at Aberdeen.

Celtic have had the Staggies at home twice and are due a second trip to the Highlands as well as Tannadice. They are also due a home game against the Dons.

That scenario would give both 19 home games and an even number of home and away against post-split rivals. Perfect.

But there’s going to be some rabble if United somehow find a way to fall out of it and, for talking sake, it’s the Reds and Motherwell who go into the top-half to join Hibs, Livi and Hearts.

Suddenly, there’s a nightmare scenario for the SPFL of Rangers having played all five of the other teams in the top-six at home twice already in the season.

It can’t be the Light Blues are asked to play every game away from home. Which means Rangers would have to get at least one of them, maybe two, at home twice.

How the SPFL sort that out is anyone’s guess. Quite frankly, they just couldn’t. The fixture computer will need more than a screen protector. It’ll need to be ax-proof.


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