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Page last updated at 09:03 GMT, Wednesday, 17 June 2009 10:03 UK

Rangers to open against Falkirk

Scott Brown and Steven Davis in action
The first Old Firm clash of the new season is at Ibrox on 3 October

Rangers begin the defence of their Scottish Premier League title against Falkirk on 15 August.

Runners-up Celtic visit Aberdeen, while newly promoted St Johnstone open their campaign at home to Motherwell.

Dundee United host Hearts, St Mirren visit Hibernian and Hamilton Academical are at Kilmarnock's Rugby Park.

Rangers host Celtic in the season's first Old Firm derby on 3 October, with the return fixture on 2 January, while Hearts host Hibs on 7 November.

While Rangers have a low-key opener against a Falkirk side who they defeated in the Scottish Cup final and will be under a yet-to-be-announced new manager, Celtic start the season in intriguing fashion.

Under their new manager, Tony Mowbray, the Glasgow side will expect a stern test from an Aberdeen side led by Mark McGhee - the former Celtic striker who had himself hoped to take over at Parkhead before rejoining one of his other former clubs.

Both sides will by then have played their opening European fixtures, as will Falkirk and Motherwell, while St Johnstone and St Mirren will have played in the first round of the Co-operative Insurance Cup.

Mowbray will face the Scottish club he previously managed, Hibernian, now under the charge of former Falkirk boss John Hughes, for the first time on 29 August at Easter Road.

That same day, McGhee's Aberdeen take on Motherwell, who he left for Pittodrie last week, who will by then have appointed his replacement.

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Rangers, who ended Celtic's three-year reign as Scottish champions when they clinched the title last season, are away to their Glasgow rivals in a return to the traditional Old Firm New Year fixture on 2 January.

Walter Smith's side are hosts for the third Old Firm derby the season on 27 February.

The fourth and final fixture between the sides will only be decided once the league splits into two groupings of six for the final five games of the season.

Rangers reach the split with a trip to Tannadice to face Dundee United on 10 April, with Celtic at home to Motherwell.

The Ibrox outfit are away to Hearts, who finished third last term, in their second game of the season on 23 August - the first Sunday fixture of the league season.

Hearts visit Ibrox on 23 January, with Rangers travelling to Edinburgh again on 27 March.

Aberdeen, fourth in the SPL last season, visit Ibrox on 26 September and 24 March with Rangers going to Pittodrie on 28 November.

Celtic are at home to the Dons on 5 December and away to the same opponents on 13 February.

Hearts visit Celtic Park on 19 September and 10 February, with the return fixture on 19 December.

The Edinburgh side complete their pre-split fixtures at home to Kilmarnock on 10 April.

Hearts face Aberdeen, who finished fourth last season, away on 17 October and 27 February - and at home on 27 January.

SPL newcomers host near neighbours Dundee United on 26 September.

Champions Rangers are the visitors on 17 October and 20 February - and away on 12 December.

The Perth side visit Celtic on 22 August and 20 March, with a home fixture against the SPL runners-up on 23 January.


Opening weekend fixtures - Saturday 15 August

Aberdeen v Celtic
Dundee Utd v Hearts
Hibernian v St Mirren
Kilmarnock v Hamilton Accies
Rangers v Falkirk
St Johnstone v Motherwell



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see also
Scottish club-by-club fixtures
17 Jun 09 |  Football
Inverness start against the Pars
17 Jun 09 |  Scottish League
Cash-hit Clyde open in Peterhead
17 Jun 09 |  Scottish League
Relegated duo given home starts
17 Jun 09 |  Scottish League
SPL clubs on tour
14 Jun 09 |  Scottish Premier
SPL duo head for Ochilview in cup
04 Jun 09 |  Scottish Cups
Smith excited by European return
24 May 09 |  Rangers
The road to the SPL championship
24 May 09 |  Scottish Premier


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