Rangers face a trip to Pittodrie to face Aberdeen on August 1st in their first Scottish Premiership game of the season as the SPFL reveal this campaign’s fixture list.
The first match at Ibrox for Steven Gerrard’s side will take place against St. Mirren a week later as Rangers play three home and three away games in August.
But it’s the date of the first Celtic match – away to our Old Firm rivals at Parkhead – which has caught the eye of the Rangers support.
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) July 6, 2020
This match is scheduled to take place on October 17th and will be the 11th and final game of the first round of fixtures in the 12-team league.
This is the latest possible point where the SPFL could realistically play the match and comes after Celtic manager Neil Lennon pleaded for the game be moved back to allow in crowds.
“Should the first Old Firm game be pushed back? I think that’s what everyone would want,” said Lennon [Scottish Sun].
“Everyone associated with the game would want that and the clubs would want that.
“I’m sure it would suit the TV companies as well.”
For an apparently random fixture generator, this appears to be a rather startling coincidence.
Celtic also start their campaign at home to Hamilton – a considerably easier tie than Rangers’ trip to Pittodrie – and the Ibrox support have raised suspicions over the scheduling.
Can't believe that super computer managed to pencil the Celtic game on the last available date…almost as if somebody programmed that
— George Burns (@GeorgeB01065217) July 6, 2020
HAHA shock, Celtic game is the last one 😂
— G (at 🏡) (@MrGaryValentine) July 6, 2020
Pittodrie away, again on first day. Of course that’s a very ‘random’ selection
The random computer, after weeks of publicised pressure, suddenly randomly allocates an Old Firm on last weekend available
I’m becoming so cynical 😂
— Four Lads Had a Dream (@4ladshadadream) July 6, 2020
That “computer “ is at it , Aberdeen away first 2 out of 3 seasons
— David (@DJH_EK) July 6, 2020
Its actually so funny how corrupt scottish football is 🤣
— lol 🌹🌍 (@Dokutsu97) July 6, 2020
Good to see the random generator allocating Rangers a tough start away to Pittodrie and Celtic Park being the last possible game. Rangers need to start strong and lean in to the Sir Alex Ferguson siege mentality, to truly challenge Celtic over the course of a season. Let’s go!
— Still staying at home every other Saturday (@CF3Loyal) July 6, 2020
So Aberdeen away first there’s a shock and no Celtic game till October when it’s always been last week August/first week September 🙄
— No Way 1980 (@kevmanda10) July 6, 2020
Aberdeen away for the opener. How "random"…
— Nhoj (@nhoj7rr) July 6, 2020
Hahahahaha. When was the last time Rangers and Celtic played their first league game around the 17th October?
— LuxInterior4209 (@bboysshadrach) July 6, 2020
They get old firm pushed back and Hamilton first game but the spfl are not corrupt
— PaulHallyburton (@ha11y6) July 6, 2020
Funny how the Celtic game is the last one available. Almost as if the SPFL are hoping by then fans will be back
— Callum Stewart (@Callum_Stewart6) July 6, 2020
Next joke 😂
— Chris (@chris_mcd09) July 6, 2020
The first Old Firm game of the season is away and it is the last game out of the first 11 fixtures.
Shocked? Not in the slightest.
Can't possibly have that game with no fans, SPFL trying their best to play this game with some fans in attendance. SPFL corrupt to the core. pic.twitter.com/lfHqiaKq4y
— Rangers FC & Linfield FC (@bluesbrothers86) July 6, 2020
Rangers fans suspicions of the SPFL and their executive have not been helped with accusations of corruption, bullying and coercion concerning the infamous end of season vote.
Rangers demanded Neil Doncaster’s suspension and an independent investigation into those running the game in this country amid allegations of corruption [Rangers].
The game’s executive are currently in court as Hearts and Partick Thistle demand financial reparations for what they see as illegal expulsion from the league or a reverse of the decision.
They are now taking the fight to an arbitrator [BBC Scotland].
Much of this concerns the altering of Dundee’s already submitted vote in order for the SPFL to get their preferable result.
The original No vote would’ve seen the SPFL’s league-ending proposals fail.
Whilst Rangers fans may well feel the right to be aggrieved, Steven Gerrard’s team are going to have to win consistently in order to lift the Premiership title no matter where they kick-off.
Aberdeen away is undoubtedly one of the hardest fixtures on the calendar but there is an added benefit in that there will be no spectators in the ground for that match.
Professor Jason Leitch, the National clinical director, explained that there’s “pretty much no chance” of physically distanced crowds in August or September.
However, Leitch did hold out hope that there would be fans back in grounds in autumn and winter.
“I can’t imagine physically-distanced crowds in August or September. I might be wrong and with a fair wind we might get there,” said Leitch [BBC Scotland].
“I think we might run some test events during that two-month period. It might be a big match but a small test event crowd.
“Then thinking about into the autumn and winter I would hope if things remain good then we might be able to get back to physically-distanced crowds.”
That said, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon played down talk of an October return to football stadiums and told clubs that the decision on this has not yet been taken.
“Football with crowds has not been pencilled in for October,” said Sturgeon [Edinburgh Live].
“We haven’t taken that decision yet.
“Jason was simply trying to find a way of saying, ‘Don’t assume it will be October when we get crowds back’.
“So do not take from this that we have given football an October provisional date for crowds being back.
“That’s not the case and actually I don’t think it’s a fair interpretation of what Jason actually said.”
The accusation is that this first Old Firm match – normally played in September – has been moved to suit Celtic and so they can have fans in the stadium.
There is a feeling that such a decision would not have been taken had the first Old Firm match been at Ibrox.
However, such is the ongoing situation with the coronavirus it appears that no winter break has been scheduled into Rangers’ fixture list this season.
That means there will be no extended break from which Rangers can come back and capitulate, something which has been an issue in the last two seasons.
The SPFL have been contacted requesting clarity over how the fixture generation system works and asking if the first Old Firm fixture was deliberately placed.