SPFL: Announcement on last round of fixtures delayed until after weekend

Rangers' James Tavernier and Celtic's James Forrest
Rangers and Celtic will face one another once more in the Scottish Premiership this season

The Scottish Professional Football League will wait until after this weekend's fixtures before finalising the final rounds of top-flight games.

That is despite Hearts having claimed the final Premiership top-six place after Motherwell's loss to Aberdeen.

Results over the coming days could give Celtic the chance to clinch their seventh consecutive title in their first match after the league splits.

A derby with Rangers would then be unlikely to be scheduled on that date.

But the last Old Firm league game of the Premiership season is likely to go ahead on that weekend, 21-22 April, if Celtic cannot wrap up the championship that early.

League officials also have a decision to make on which teams face a third trip to Ibrox this season.

Rangers, who also face their Glasgow rivals in a Scottish Cup semi-final on 15 April, are due two home games after the split but have already faced all five of their top-six rivals twice at home.

Celtic, who host Dundee on Wednesday evening, are nine points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the table, with Rangers three points further behind.

There will also be one more Edinburgh derby this season, with Hibs due to visit Hearts after the split.

Hearts and Hibernian players
Hearts have yet to beat Hibs in the league this season

The Scottish top flight has split after 33 rounds of fixtures since season 2000-01.

An SPFL spokesman said: "Work has begun to prepare the Ladbrokes Premiership post-split fixture schedule for 2017-18.

"This work will include consultations with Police Scotland and discussions with Sky Sports and BT Sport regarding live broadcast selections.

"It is expected that the post-split fixture schedule will be published early next week."

Celtic, Aberdeen, Rangers Hibernian, Kilmarnock and Hearts will play in the top six, with the title and Europa League qualification to be settled.

Meanwhile, Motherwell, St Johnstone, Hamilton Academical, Dundee, Ross County and Partick Thistle will play to avoid the automatic relegation spot and the play-off against a team finishing in the top four of the Championship.

After Saturday and Sunday's games, 10 teams will have played 33 games and Hamilton's rearranged home match against Kilmarnock will be played on 14 April.

Meanwhile, the SPFL have announced total prize money to its 42 member clubs this season will increase by £800,000 on last term's prize fund of £23.7m.

The Premiership champions will receive £3.176m, a sum of £533,000 will go to the Championship winners, League One's top side will get £119,000 and there will be a £64,000 prize for the team finishing first in League Two.

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: "This season's revenue distribution is the highest prize fund in the history of the Scottish game and a record windfall for all SPFL clubs."

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