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SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP

First Old Firm derby in four years set for 10 September

Rangers will meet Celtic at Parkhead for the first time in four years in September, as the 2016/17 Scottish Premiership fixtures were released on Friday.

First Old Firm derby in four years set for 10 September
RUSSELL CHEYNE REUTERS

Rangers will play at Parkhead, home of arch rivals Celtic, for the first time in four years on 10 September, it was revealed today as the 2016/17 Scottish Premiership fixtures were announced.

Four years ago, Rangers were forced to start life again in the bottom tier of Scottish professional football following liquidation in June 2012.

But the Gers have steadily worked their way back up the divisions and clinched promotion to the top-flight by winning the second-tier Championship last season, during a campaign where they beat Celtic in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup only to lose to Hibernian in a Hampden Park final marred by a post-match pitch invasion and clashes between rival fans last month.

In Rangers' absence, Celtic have largely had things their own way in the Scottish Premiership, winning five titles in a row. But the Gers could yet mount a title challenge this term, with the September 10 clash, a New Year's Eve Old Firm encounter at Rangers' Ibrox ground on 31 December and an 11 March derby at Parkhead set to be three pivotal fixtures in the season.

Celtic will begin their Premiership campaign away to Hearts on 6 August, with Rangers at home to Hamilton the same day. However, Celtic have chosen to postpone their second game against Partick Thistle the following week so they can take on Italian giants Inter Milan in a glamour friendly in Ireland.

Rangers fans at Hampden Park, Glasgow in the Scottish Cup semi-final earlier this year.

The match coincides with the 40th anniversary season since Celtic became the first British club to win the European Cup (now the Champions League) by beating Inter 2-1 in the 1967 final in Lisbon.

Celtic's first domestic home league game won't be until 27 August when Aberdeen, who pushed the Hoops last season, travel to Parkhead.

The defending champions have a new manager in Brendan Rodgers after the former Liverpool boss was appointed in succession to Ronny Deila in May after the Norwegian resigned following criticism of the club's poor European performances and defeats in the semi-finals of both domestic cup competitions. “It's always exciting for players, managers and supporters to see the fixtures announced,” Rodgers told Celtic's website on Friday.

“I am sure, like myself, the players will have an eye on things today and when we see them on Monday we will get into our work straight away to be ready for the action starting,” added the Northern Irishman, who took Liverpool to within a whisker of their first English title since 1990 in 2013/14 before a loss of form last term resulted in him being sacked in October.

“Early in the season we also have some very important Champions League qualifying games to look forward to, which again will be very exciting for everyone around the club. I am well aware that our fans would love to see us back in the group stages of the Champions League and this desire is shared by myself and the players - it's something we really want to achieve”.