CELTIC have been backed by NINE Premiership clubs in their urgent call for the winter break to be brought forward.

The Ibrox club and Highland outfit Ross County are believed to be the two sides against the motion.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst, of course, is due to take his side to Parkhead for the second Glasgow derby of the campaign on January 2 – seven days after the fresh curbs on attendances.

The Hoops hierarchy made the sensible plea after yesterday’s announcement from the Scottish Government that crowds will be restricted to a mere 500 for at least three weeks.

Ten clubs, including the Hoops, are in favour of an early break, providing Sky Sports agree to reschedule live games, according to a report in the Scottish Sun.

The SPFL board held talks with clubs and TV chiefs and the 10 members will make the decision by a majority vote.

A Hoops statement said: “Celtic can confirm it has requested 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 majority of the top-flight clubs want the league paused for three weeks after this evening’s fixtures. Celtic, Aberdeen, Hibs, Livingston and Motherwell have all made public calls for the shutdown to begin earlier than January 3.

It’s understood Dundee, Dundee United, Hearts, St Johnstone and St Mirren are also in favour – if, of course, a revised fixture list is possible.

But the Govan club and the Dingwall outfit are not backing the logical plan to rejig the winter plans.

Van Bronckhorst’s outfit also face a tough trip to the north east to face Aberdeen before the break and, after the news from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday, it means they will not have to play in front of capacity crowds on their travels.

Instead, there will be 500 allowed in at Parkhead and Pittodrie.

Hibs, beaten 2-1 by Celtic in the Premier Sports League Cup Final on Sunday, issued a statement supporting the idea of an early winter break.

It said: “Every effort should be made to allow supporters to watch their team and the game they love.

“The club also believes this will protect the integrity of the competition and would save clubs from the potential loss of substantial revenue.”

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster vowed to do everything to help clubs.

He sits on the board with chairman Murdoch MacLennan, independent non-executive director Karyn McCluskey, Ron Gordon (Hibs), James MacDonald (Ross County), Stewart Robertson (Rangers), Les Gray (Hamilton), Ross McArthur (Dunfermline), Alastair Donald (Forfar Athletic) and Paul Hetherington (Airdrie).

But discussions with the broadcast partner Sky will be key to what happens next.

They are due to show four live games over the festive period, between Boxing Day and January 3, including the Glasgow derby a week on Sunday.

League supremo Doncaster added: “Our clubs have adapted quickly and effectively to previous restrictions and we will work with them in implementing the guidance in the coming days.”

*DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from St Mirren v Celtic this evening – only in your champion CQN.


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