Celtic's Kyogo Furuhashi
Celtic's Kyogo Furuhashi Image Credit: Reuters

Celtic have asked the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) to bring forward its scheduled winter break in light of new COVID-19 restrictions limiting matchday attendances, including the Old Firm derby against Rangers.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday there would be a limit of 500 people for any outdoor events from December 26 for up to three weeks while social distancing of one metre would also be required amid a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Celtic will travel to St Johnstone on Boxing Day before hosting Hibernian on December 29 and Rangers on January 2 after Wednesday’s trip to St Mirren, which is not affected by the new restrictions.

The Premiership’s winter break is scheduled to begin on January 4, with clubs returning to action in the Scottish Cup from January 20.

“Celtic can confirm that it has requested that the SPFL bring forward the scheduled winter break and reschedule the fixtures affected by the regulations announced,” the club said in a statement.

Hibs also backed the move, saying it would “protect the integrity of the competition” and avert loss of revenue, while Motherwell chief executive Alan Burrows said the restrictions were “incredibly frustrating”.

“We should start the winter break now, and rearrange these matches when all fans have a chance to attend at a later date when hopefully restrictions are eased,” Burrows added. “During that time, we (can) put our facilities and platform at the disposal of the local health authorities to ensure as many booster vaccinations can be administered as possible.”