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Monday 22nd March 2021

Scottish Premiership

Post-split Q&A

Post-split fixtures Q&A with SPFL Company Secretary and Director of Operations Calum Beattie...

How are the fixtures for rounds 34-38 determined?
All clubs play either 16 or 17 home games in the 33 fixture rounds before the split. The most important thing is to try to ensure clubs finish the season having played 19 games at home and 19 away. This is not always possible but we have managed to balance the fixture list for 2020/21.

Will some clubs play certain opponents three times at home and once away?
Yes. Fixture reversals, to a greater or lesser extent, have been required in each of the 19 previous seasons the split has been used. No post-split fixtures were produced in 2019/20 as the Premiership was decided on a points per game basis when the Coronavirus pandemic saw football suspended in March 2020.

What games have been switched this season?
In the top six, Celtic will host Livingston for a third time and Rangers will travel to Livingston for a third time. St Johnstone will play Aberdeen at McDiarmid Park for a third time. In the bottom six, Dundee United will travel to both Kilmarnock and Hamilton Academical for a third time. 

How do you decide which fixtures are reversed?
We generally aim for the fewest switches possible and try to avoid reversing fixtures that have a key impact on the league title, the race for Europe and the battle to avoid relegation, but this is not always possible. We avoid reversing the big city derby matches and also consider what has happened with the post-split fixtures in previous years. 

Are there any ‘golden rules’ regarding the post-split fixtures?
All clubs will play a minimum of two and a maximum of three home fixtures after the split. We try to ensure that all clubs finish the season with a home fixture in round 37 or 38 - they would typically be away from home on the other matchday. We have succeeded in arranging for all clubs to finish home-away or away-home this season.

Why have the split at all?
In order to accommodate a division of 12 clubs, without forcing them to play too many matches (44), the split is essential. It also provides additional interest in the run up to the split itself. The final five games then involve teams playing each other to chase a common objective, whether that is the title, European qualification or to retain their SPFL status by avoiding relegation or the play-offs. No league structure is perfect but, 20 years on, the split has become an established and exciting element of the Scottish Premiership.

Did the post-split fixture dates change recently?
We had to make some alterations to the dates due to the resumption of the Scottish Cup this month. We worked closely with our colleagues at the Scottish FA regarding the calendar for the remaining months of the season and are looking forward to a busy and exciting conclusion to 2020/21. Premiership fixture round 34 will now be played on the weekend of April 10/11, with fixture round 35 on the midweek of April 20/21. Round 36 (weekend of May 1/2), round 37 (midweek of May 11/12) and round 38 (weekend of May 15/16) remain as originally scheduled. 

What about TV selections?
We were liaising last week and again over the weekend with our exclusive broadcast partner, Sky Sports. Sky have initially selected the Rangers v Celtic and Rangers v Aberdeen matches on May 2 and May 15 respectively. Further matches may be selected in due course. With the support of Sky Sports, clubs are also able to stream matches live to their supporters and all supporters will be looking forward to an exciting end to what has been one of the most challenging and eventful seasons in Scottish football history.