Premiership split 'imbalances' not new, says Neil Doncaster

Neil Doncaster and Iain Blair
Neil Doncaster (left) says the SPFL aim to "ensure the best possible set of post-split fixtures"

Scottish Professional Football League chief executive Neil Doncaster insists the Premiership split is "not new" as he highlighted its "imbalances".

The top flight splits in two later this month and Rangers are expected to have a third home game against two of their league rivals.

Head coach Neil Lennon expects his Hibernian team to have another away game against the Ibrox side.

"It's a work in progress," said Doncaster.

"We will be in a position to announce the post-split fixtures early next week."

The final round of pre-split fixtures takes place this weekend, with one rearranged game to follow next Saturday.

The Premiership resumes on the weekend of 21 and 22 April with Celtic, Aberdeen, Rangers, Hibs, Kilmarnock and Hearts in the top half and Motherwell, St Johnstone, Hamilton Academical, Dundee, Ross County and Partick Thistle in the bottom six.

Rangers have already hosted leaders Celtic, the Dons, Hibs, Hearts and Killie twice each.

Results over the coming days could give Celtic the chance to clinch their seventh consecutive title in their first match after the league splits and an Old Firm derby would then be unlikely to be scheduled on that date.

"This is not a new process," said Doncaster.

Ross McCrorie and Callum McGregor
Rangers are battling for second place as Celtic close in on the title

"This is the 18th season that we have had a split league, and with the split comes, just a matter of logic, imbalances that may mean a club or clubs loses or gains a home fixture. And it will mean distortions in terms of the amount of times clubs play each other home or away.

"So there will be clubs that end up playing others three times away or three times at home.

"What's important is that we go through the process of liaising with broadcasters and the police, as you'd expect.

"That is something that [SPFL secretary] Iain Blair is well used to doing over the last 18 years and he will do that over the coming days to ensure the best possible set of post-split fixtures, but also the appropriate scheduling."

Doncaster is replacing Partick Thistle managing director Ian Maxwell on the Scottish FA board, with Maxwell a candidate for the SFA's vacant chief executive role.

Former St Mirren chairman Stewart Gilmour criticised Doncaster's SFA appointment, saying it showed "a real lack of leadership", but Doncaster said: "Ultimately when you sit on a board you are there to represent the best interests of that organisation.

"My appointment has been part of an ongoing desire to align the interests of the SPFL and the Scottish FA. I think the two organisations - the governing body and the senior league - should be working more closely together, and I see my appointment as part of that process.

"I will certainly do what I can to achieve a better, stronger working relationship for the benefit of the entire game in Scotland."

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