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SPFL explain unexpected Celtic fixture imbalance

The SPFL has attempted to explain the post split fixtures that will see Celtic host St Mirren for a third time this season, on Matchday 38 while Philippe Clement’s side complete their campaign away to Hearts.

It was widely expected that Celtic would face sixth placed Dundee at home for a third time but for some unknown reason the SPFL have decided that the fifth placed club rather than the sixth will have the imbalance in fixtures.

The top six clubs were known at 5pm on Saturday, waiting almost three days before announcing the fixtures suggests that there has been some negotiations going on to suit one club in particular.

The club that refused to play a rearranged match in the first available midweek because it impacted on their build up to facing Celtic on April 7.

The club that announced to a media partner that they had told the SFA not to have Willie Collum involved in their matches, since that announcement the Lanarkshire based official hasn’t been a referee or VAR at any SPFL matches involving Clement’s side, David Dickinson has refereed three of their matches over the same time frame.

On a Q and A on the SPFL website Chief Operating Officer Calum Beattie explained

Which games have been switched this season?
To achieve the 19/19 home/away balance, five pairings have been reversed in the post-split schedule for 2023/24. There are four switches in the top six – St Mirren will host Heart of Midlothian and Rangers for a third time, Celtic will host St Mirren for a third time and Dundee will be at home to Kilmarnock for a third occasion. In the bottom six, Aberdeen will play St Johnstone at Pittodrie for a third time.

How do you decide which fixtures are reversed?
We generally aim to minimise the number of changes 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 the reality is that this is not always possible. We try to avoid reversing the big city derbies and may also consider what has happened with the post-split fixtures in previous years.

Are there any ‘golden rules’ regarding the post-split fixtures?
All clubs will play a minimum of two and a maximum of three home fixtures after the split. We try to ensure clubs finish the season home/away or away/home and that is again the case this season.

The Glasgow Derby was expected to be the first post split fixture, being played as the third match increases the chances of it being decisive in the race for the Premiership title.

In April 2018 Celtic clinched the title with a 5-0 win over Graeme Murty’s side but there is a big difference between a clincher and a decider.

CLICK HERE for the rumours about Crawford Allan.

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