Scottish Premiership clubs could face fixture pile-up, warns Neil Doncaster

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster has warned Scottish Premiership clubs they could face significant scheduling difficulties if some of next season’s fixtures have to be re-arranged.

The 2020/21 Premiership fixtures – which will be shown exclusively on Sky Sports – were revealed on Monday, with the season due to start on August 1.

  • Scottish Premiership fixtures: Live games on Sky Sports
  • Scottish Premiership fixtures in full

The campaign will not feature a winter break as the SPFL continues to deal with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, which suspended football in March.

Donacaster explained the need to conclude the 2019/20 Scottish Cup – which is at the semi-final stage – as well as UEFA having to clear a backlog of European fixtures, means clubs could face playing four matches in eight days.

He told Sky Sports News: “The challenges this year have been compounded by the fact that UEFA have taken a lot of the dates that would ordinarily be available for the outstanding Europa League and Champions League games.

“We have got the outstanding Scottish Cup semi-finals and final that still need to be plugged in from the season 19-20 into this year, and then we have got the Euros in June next year.

“All of that has meant that we have not been able to accommodate a winter break this year, and it has been extremely challenging to get all of the fixtures away.

“We have got just 34 spaces for games this side of the split in April and we have got 33 games to fit in, so if there are any delays due to weather or Scottish Cup replays – whatever it may be – then there is a problem.

“We have had in the past a situation where clubs have had to play four games in eight days and we certainly hope that won’t be the case this year, but that’s the contingency if it needs to be used.”

Scottish clubs have already been granted permission to resume full-contact training by the Scottish government, but it remains unclear what the time-frame is for allowing fans back into stadiums.

However, Doncaster was hopeful fans could return in time for the first Old Firm fixture of the season on October 17, but says they will be ultimately be guided by the government.

“We are in a situation at the moment where we are not even allowed to play friendly games let alone competitive games,” explained Doncaster. “We are waiting on Scottish government approval, which will hopefully be forthcoming shortly for both friendly games and then the commencement of competitive matches on August 1.

“[We are] working with the Scottish government and hopefully getting fans back in as soon as safely possible.”

Confirmed Scottish Premiership games live on Sky Sports

Sat Aug 1: Aberdeen vs Rangers – 5.30pm

Sun Aug 2: Celtic vs Hamilton – 4.30pm

Mon Aug 3: Ross County vs Motherwell – 7.45pm

Sat Aug 8: St Johnstone vs Aberdeen – 12.30pm

Sun Aug 9: Kilmarnock vs Celtic – 4.30pm

Tue Aug 11: Dundee Utd vs Hibernian – 6pm

Wed Aug 12: St Mirren vs Celtic – 6pm

Sat Aug 15: Hibernian vs Motherwell – 5.30pm

Sun Aug 16: Livingston vs Rangers – 4.30pm

Sat Aug 22: Dundee Utd vs Celtic – 5.30pm

Sun Aug 23: St Johnstone vs Hibernian – 4.30pm

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