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Old Firm bosses say fixture backlog could aid Celtic

El-Hadji Diouf of Rangers and Celtic's Joe Ledley challenge for the ball
Celtic and Rangers are challenging for the SPL title this season

Both Old Firm managers agree that a Rangers fixture backlog could help Celtic win the Scottish Premier League.

Due to postponements, Rangers have two SPL games in hand, and are involved in two cups and the Europa League.

"You'd think it would favour the other team. It certainly did the last time," said Rangers boss Walter Smith.

"Possibly [it could help us]. Everyone goes on about how Rangers have so many games but we've only played two more," said Celtic manager Neil Lennon.

"They do have a backlog, but I'm sure whatever the fixtures throw up they're strong enough to deal with."

Currently, Celtic lead league title rivals Rangers by five points.

Cups run could mean Gers fixture pile-up

The pair must play each other twice more in the league - as well as another twice, in the Scottish Cup and the Co-operative Insurance Cup.

Wintry weather in November and December caused the postponement of many matches in Scotland's top flight.

Given their cross-competition commitments, Rangers could find themselves with the possible scenario of having to play four games in eight days before the SPL splits on 16 April.

In an attempt to prevent clubs having to play a total of 33 matches before the split, SPL secretary Iain Blair mooted the idea of scheduling some games for Friday afternoon kick-offs.

We have quite a few cup games, which can cause us a problem if we win them, but hopefully we'll have the problem

Walter Smith
Rangers manager

Asked whether he felt Rangers were effectively being punished for their continuing European run, Smith added: "If you look back to three years ago (when Rangers reached the Uefa Cup final), weather conditions caused a lot of games to be postponed and so did one or two other happenings.

"It would look as though if a Scottish team has to go to the final, and there are other problems, there will always be this kind of fixture pile-up.

"It could happen to anybody. I'm not sure what happened to Celtic when they went to the Uefa final (in 2003) but I think they had one or two games to put in as well.

"So it would look as though the Scottish teams would have that situation if they ever get a successful run in Europe."

Lennon expects less fiery Tannadice clash

Smith stressed he was not worried by the situation, which remains hypothetical.

"We have quite a few cup games, which can cause us a problem if we win them, but hopefully we'll have the problem.

"If we don't win the cup games the problem's alleviated.

"They made us play four games in a week the last time and if it means we're being successful, we'll happily try and handle it."

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see also
SPL considers early Friday games
10 Feb 11 |  Scottish Premier
Lennon against season extension
20 Dec 10 |  Celtic
Gers boss queries extension plan
20 Dec 10 |  Rangers

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