As Scottish football curses new Covid-19 restrictions, much of the talk is centring around Rangers’ trip to Celtic Park on January 2nd.
Under new rules unveiled by the Scottish Government football will only be played in front of 500 fans from Boxing Day, meaning Rangers’ clash with St Mirren is also affected.
“For a period of up to three weeks, we intend to put a limit on the size of live public events.”
— Sky News (@SkyNews) December 21, 2021
The Ibrox club’s upcoming visits to both Pittodrie to face Aberdeen and Parkhead to face Celtic are at present on course to be played in front of severely reduced capacity audiences.
This – it is believed – gives Rangers an advantage in both matches with both games amongst the most challenging in Rangers’ calendar.
As a result, there is some talk regarding bringing the winter break forward in order to give the matches the best possible chance to be played in front of full houses.
According to the Daily Record, Scottish Premiership clubs are holding “informal” discussions on this but there are two major issues for Rangers.
Rangers could miss AFCON trio for Old Firm if winter break moved forward due to Covid-19
Firstly, there is no guarantee and substantial uncertainty surrounding the return of crowds and this may well just be delaying the inevitable through major fan frustration.
On top of this, the notion the winter break could be brought forward also hurts Rangers more than any other side due to the current Africa Cup of Nations schedule.
Rangers are set to lose up to three players to the Nigeria squad for the tournament with Calvin Bassey, Leon Balogun and form star Joe Aribo all set to travel to Cameroon.
As things stand all three have been given the green light to play against Celtic on January 2nd and – should Nigeria go deep into the tournament – will miss five games in total.
But if the winter break is brought forward then the Ibrox trio will miss more matches – including presumably the Aberdeen and Celtic clashes – thus putting Rangers at a disadvantage.
Whilst the restrictions continue to be a bugbear for supporters and Scottish football, there’s a real feeling we’re just going to have soldier on to the winter break as things stand.
Meanwhile, a Rangers youth coach has been lauding an ex-Man United youngster for his “ruthless” displays with the B team.