Celtic to begin Premiership title defence at Hearts

Celtic won the last game between the sides at Tynecastle. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Celtic won the last game between the sides at Tynecastle. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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Brendan Rodgers first league match at Celtic manager will come at Tynecastle after the SPFL released the fixture lists for the 2016/17 Scottish football season.

The season will begin on 6 August, though it’s likely that some of the games will be moved for live TV coverage.

The first Old Firm derby of the campaign comes on the fifth weekend, currently scheduled for 10 September, when Celtic and Rangers will meet for the first time on league duty in four years at Celtic Park.

The two sides will meet again on 31 December at Ibrox. The final pre-split fixture between the two will come on 11 March.

Rangers’ first match back in the top flight since 2012 will come at home to Hamilton.

After from hosting the champions, Hearts will then have to travel to Pittodrie on the second weekend. The two teams developed an intense rivalry in the chase for second place last season and the league have recognised this by having them square off again in the traditional New Years’ games, which this year will take place on Hogmanay.

Prior to hosting Hearts, Aberdeen will begin their season with a difficult trip to McDiarmid Park. The Dons defeated St Johnstone only once on league duty last term. They travel to Celtic Park on 27 August and host Rangers on 24 September.

The first Highland derby of the campaign will occur on the second weekend when Ross County travel to Inverness CT. Ross County start their campaign at home to Dundee while Inverness CT travel to Partick Thistle.

Kilmarnock, having survived by defeating Falkirk in the Premiership play-off final, will host Motherwell in their first game.

Motherwell rivals Hamilton will travel to Fir Park for the Lanarkshire derby on 17 September.

With no Dundee United in the league, the Tayside derby between St Johnstone and Dundee takes on extra significance. The first of those matches will occur on 22 October and the two will battle again at New Year.

Matches will take place on Christmas Eve for the first time in five years with Hearts’ trip to Dundee the pick of the bunch.

Opening weekend fixtures

Partick Thistle v Inverness CT

Kilmarnock v Motherwell

St Johnstone v Aberdeen

Ross County v Dundee

Hearts v Celtic

Rangers v Hamilton

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