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Hibs and Motherwell back Celtic’s SPFL winter break request

TWO Premiership clubs have joined Celtic in requesting that the SPFL bring forward the winter break to coincide with the three-week restriction on supporters attending games.

A maximum of 500 people will be permitted to go to a match from Boxing Day onwards as per guidelines set out by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday afternoon.

That prompted Parkhead chiefs to ask the league’s governing body if next month’s winter break could be brought forward, and reschedule the affected fixtures – including the derby against Rangers on January 2.

“In light of today’s announcement regarding supporters attending matches,” a club statement read, “Celtic can confirm that it has today requested that the SPFL bring forward the scheduled winter break and reschedule the fixtures affected by the regulations announced.

“The game owes it to supporters to explore all opportunities to maximise the prospect of all supporters being able to attend matches and support the game they love.”

The SPFL have yet to issue a response at the time of writing but Celtic’s request has been backed by fellow top-flight clubs Hibernian and Motherwell.

A statement from the Easter Road club read: “Following the Scottish Government’s announcement earlier today, Hibernian FC has requested that the SPFL bring forward the scheduled winter break and reschedule the affected fixtures.

“Hibernian FC completely understands that this is an incredibly difficult situation due to on-going pandemic, and with that in mind health and safety should be at the forefront of every decision, which is why the club has made this proposal to the SPFL.

“Alongside this, every effort should be made to allow supporters to watch their team and the game they love. The club also believes that this will protect the integrity of the competition and would save clubs from the potential loss of substantial revenue.

“The club is now waiting for guidance from the SPFL and will update supporters in due course.”

Motherwell chief executive Alan Burrows, meanwhile, expressed his support for the idea on Twitter.

Burrows asked how each club would decide which 500 people would be allowed to attend matches while the restrictions are in place before adding: “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.

“That way we increase the likelihood (from zero, currently) that fans can watch the gives live, all matches are played under the same parameters and clubs can commercialise the fixtures in line with current budgets.

“During that time, we put our facilities and platform at the disposal of the local health authorities to ensure as many booster vaccinations can be administered as possible.”

The SPFL earlier rejected a request from St Mirren to postpone the Paisley club’s upcoming Premiership fixtures with Celtic and Rangers following a Covid outbreak.

Jim Goodwin’s side are scheduled to host Celtic on Wednesday night before making the trip to Ibrox on Boxing Day, but the Buddies’ squad has been decimated by Covid.

The fixtures could still be postponed if St Mirren return more positive PCR test results but as it stands, the SPFL have ordered the matches to go ahead as originally planned.

Rules surrounding coronavirus state that so long as a team has 13 outfield players and one goalkeeper available for selection, they must be considered able to fulfil a fixture.

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