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CELTIC: NEW SCOTTISH CUP PLAN

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CELTIC could kick off next season with their Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen at Hampden.

It is increasingly likely the holders’ encounter with the Dons, which is due on Sunday, April 12 will be postponed and, according to media reports, could now become the curtain-raiser to the 2020/21 campaign.

The SFA are said to be planning to stage the two last-four fixtures of the national competition – Edinburgh rivals Hearts and Hibs are also due to play – at the beginning of the new campaign. The Hoops could be in the unique position of going into a fresh term after completing the historic quadruple treble – and with their eyes set on another silverware trio.

The champions, of course, are in cold storage along with the rest of football due to the coronavirus pandemic and, with a 13-point advantage in the Premiership and only eight games to go, are awaiting the next stage of decision-making by the game’s bosses.

Hampden chiefs face a huge financial blow with Scotland’s Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Israel, which is due a week on Thursday, on the brink of being called off.

The stadium had been a 50,000 sell-out for the crucial confrontation – but all ticket income will now have to be refunded to disappointed fans who were hoping to roar their nation towards their first major finals since the World Cup in France in 1998.

That emphasises the financial importance of completing this season’s three remaining Scottish Cup-ties.

The SFA rake in gate receipts, sponsorship and TV money from their showpiece tournament and are desperate not to suffer another hit.

The Hoops, the Pittodrie outfit and the capital double-act now await the imminent decision from the Scottish football rulers about the new dates which are likely to be carried over to the start of a fresh campaign.

Celtic have picked up the trophy on the past three occasions with a 2-1 win over Derek McInnes’ Dons in 2017, a 2-0 victory over Motherwell a year later and a 2-1 triumph over Hearts last time out when Odsonne Edouard fired in two second-half goals.

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