'No one likes it' - Callum McGregor has his say on Celtic v Rangers date switch

Celtic captain Callum McGregor insists it was “essential” to bring forward the Premiership winter break in a bid to ensure a full house is in attendance for the next Old Firm game.

Celtic captain Callum McGregor has backed the SPFL's decision to bring forward the winter break and reschedule the next Old Firm fixture. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Celtic captain Callum McGregor has backed the SPFL's decision to bring forward the winter break and reschedule the next Old Firm fixture. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

The imposition of fresh Covid-related restrictions on crowd numbers by the Scottish government prompted the SPFL board to postpone the final two rounds of top flight fixtures, including Celtic’s home game against Rangers on January 2, and start the winter break after this weekend’s Boxing Day round of matches.

It means the Old Firm clash is now scheduled for February 2 in the hope the new restrictions, initially in place for three weeks, will be lifted by then.

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Celtic and Rangers staged all five of their meetings behind closed doors last season and McGregor, who played in each of those games, believes no-one who experienced it would have been happy to go ahead with the fixture on January 2 with just 500 fans allowed at Celtic Park.

“You saw the games between us and Rangers last season behind closed doors and it’s just not the same,” he said.

“Even with limited supporters it’s not the same either. The fans are essential. We need the supporters and the atmosphere.

“We’ve played behind closed doors before and no one likes it. It’s important to give it as much time as possible to get the fans back in.

“There’s a massive financial incentive to clubs as well to have supporters there and this gives us three or four weeks to try to push for it.”

In addition to allowing the maximum opportunity for supporters of all Premiership clubs to be in attendance for the rescheduled fixtures, McGregor feels it is important for the image of Scottish football as a whole that grounds are full when the TV cameras cover the highest profile matches.

“As a product, Scottish football needs as many supporters in as possible for these big games,” he added.

“As well as Celtic against Rangers, you’ve also got Hibs v Hearts and the Dundee derby in the round of games affected. We want to promote the product and I’m hoping we can do that once we get back after the New Year.”

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