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Page last updated at 15:07 GMT, Monday, 20 April 2009 16:07 UK

Celtic request split explanation

Rangers v Hearts
Rangers will host Hearts for a third time at Ibrox this season

Celtic will ask the Scottish Premier League to explain the scheduling of the five remaining fixtures of the season.

Rangers play Hearts for a third time at Ibrox in addition to making their third trip of the campaign to face Hibs.

Hearts and Hibs' fixtures need to be balanced to ensure they both play 19 games at home and away.

However, Celtic are frustrated by the move, as Rangers will avoid a visit to play Hearts at Tynecastle, where they lost in November.

The fixture anomaly could have been averted by scheduling Hearts to play play at Easter Road for the third time this season, but the SPL were keen to avoid switching the Edinburgh derby.

Hearts have drawn against both sides of the Old Firm in recent weeks while Rangers won at Hibernian for the second time this season on Sunday.

A Celtic spokesperson said: "Clearly we are quite surprised at the scheduling of matches and we have written to the SPL to get an understanding of their rationale.

"However, as they always have, (manager) Gordon Strachan and the players will get on with it."

MY SPORT: DEBATE

The SPL issued a document explaining the rationale behind the scheduling of the post-split fixtures, saying the only way the issue could be avoided is if the same six teams had ended up in the top six as last season.

Celtic will host Hearts on the final day of the season, 24 May, while Rangers will travel to Tannadice to face Dundee United.

Meanwhile, Rangers manager Walter Smith admits his side are bracing themselves for a tough title run-in after their a narrow victory over Hibernian.

Hibs secured a top-six slot courtesy of Motherwell's defeat to St Mirren and forced Rangers to grind out another hard-fought win.

Smith believes life is going to get even tougher in the final five games of the campaign as Rangers try to supplant Celtic at the top of the table.

"I think Sunday's game showed the difficulty we have," he said.

"There will be some really tough games between now and the end of the season.

"Hibs are the team who have qualified in sixth place and that was a really competitive game."

In the bottom six, Hamilton will travel to Inverness for a third time while bottom club Falkirk face a third trip to Kilmarnock. All four clubs are currently embroiled in a relegation battle, along with St Mirren.



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see also
SPL announces post-split fixtures
19 Apr 09 |  Scottish Premier


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