The SPFL have announced the retention of the winter break for next season as they revealed key dates for the 2017/18 Scottish football calendar.
The league’s governing body previously responded to calls for more games to take place during the warmer months by reconstructing the League Cup and installing a three-week break for Scottish Premiership sides in January.
After the successful trial run it’s been decided to stick with the winter shutdown despite criticism from some, including Rangers boss Mark Warburton. It means there will be no top flight matches between 1 January and 19 January, 2018.
In addition to this announcement, the SPFL have revealed the start dates for the Betfred Cup and all four leagues.
League action for all clubs will begin on 5 August, 2017. The final fixtures for the lower levels will be on the weekend of 28 April, 2018, while the Ladbrokes Premiership’s final league matches will take place on Saturday 12 May and Sunday 13 May, 2018.
The group stages of the Betfred Cup will begin on the weekend of 15 July. The decision has also been made to keep the Betfred Cup final date before Christmas, with the 2017 final scheduled to be played on Sunday, 26 November.
SPFL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster said: “We’re very pleased to be able to confirm some of the key dates for next season to allow clubs and supporters to plan ahead. The volume of fixturing slots required for international and European football dates continues to represent a great challenge for leagues across Europe however we have managed to maintain a large degree of consistency for next season in line with the current campaign.
“Following overwhelmingly positive feedback regarding this season’s winter break, most notably during a recent meeting with Ladbrokes Premiership club managers and coaches, we’ve worked to retain this for season 2017/18. We also asked clubs in the Ladbrokes Championship if they would like to see this introduced in their league, however the clear majority of feedback was against this.
“What also proved very popular this season were the improvements made to the Betfred Cup including group stages and an earlier final and those will continue in season 2017/18. The SPFL was supported in delivering these changes and others by member clubs including through our Competitions Working Group and it all demonstrates the ongoing consultation, collaboration and progressive thinking in the Scottish game.”