The fixture dilemma affecting Celtic, Hibs and Scottish football fans

Celtic and Hibs have already embarked on a hectic schedule to take them up to Christmas.

Hibs and Celtic will face each other in the Premier Sports Cup final. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Hibs and Celtic will face each other in the Premier Sports Cup final. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Wins for both in the Premier Sports Cup semi-finals at the weekend has set up a gruelling set of fixtures which will take place over the next month.

Following the 3-1 win over Rangers at Hampden Park on Sunday, Jack Ross said it would be “nice if the SPFL did us a little favour”, referencing the number of games the team will play.

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Hibs will play nine in 29 days before Christmas and the club noted, in a statement confirming the rearranged date for the Aberdeen league clash, that it would be 12 matches in 41 days prior to the winter break.

The Easter Road side have not been helped by rearranged games following the Covid outbreak at the club with other midweek dates meaning it is a case of Wednesday-Saturday for the foreseeable future.

However, Premier Sports Cup final opponents Celtic have just as busy a schedule.

Starting on Thursday, there will be nine games in 28 days before Christmas and 12 in 39 prior to the winter break due to their involvement in Europe.

For Ross and Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou squad management will be really important.

So far this season the Parkhead side have used 28 players, while just 23 have played competitive minutes for Hibs.

Celtic will be boosted by the return of Christopher Jullien and were aided by James Forrest who has recovered from injury and scored the winner against St Johnstone on Saturday.

Ross has carried a small squad at Easter Road and will be hoping that Kyle Magennis stays fit and Christian Doidge gets up to speed quickly having missed most of the campaign so far.

As well as the impact on both Celtic and Hibs, supporters for both sides, as well as those of other Premiership clubs, will be required to fork over plenty of cash if they want to watch their team in action in all of their fixtures over the next month or so.

In the build-up to Christmas and New Year, and everything the festive seasons brings, games come thick and fast.

It is fair to say there are too many games squeezed into December, a consequence of the winter break.

While the mid-season pause was brought about with good intentions, all it does is cause congestion in December and at the end of January / start of February defeating the purpose of it in the first place.

It not only makes it more difficult for fans to attend all of their clubs matches due to finances and logistics but it won’t help the condition of the players, especially those of Celtic and Hibs who will go under an intense period of playing.

Uefa’s strict schedule for fixtures makes having a winter break when there are two national cup competitions far from straightforward.

Unless Uefa makes changes or the winter break is binned, it is a problem which will continue to come up. This season it is Hibs and Celtic who will be most affected. But for fans, it is an issue every campaign.

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