SPFL gives Premiership clubs 5pm deadline to pick winter break preference

The original winter break was scheduled to start on January 3, with clubs then returning to Scottish Cup action from January 21-23; St Mirren, Dundee United and St Johnstone are currently suffering absences due to self-isolation rules amid the Covid-19 pandemic

Scottish Premiership ball
Image: Three options are to pause as planned after January 3, start the break after Boxing Day fixtures, or begin the hiatus before Sunday's game

The SPFL is expected to announce whether the winter break will be brought forward tonight after giving all 12 Scottish Premiership clubs a 5pm deadline to indicate their preference on when it should be introduced.

The three options were to pause as planned after January 3, start the break after Boxing Day fixtures, or begin the hiatus before Sunday's game.

The SPFL board encouraged clubs not to vote for the last option which would mean there are no games on December 26 due to the few slots available to play matches.

If the winter break is brought forward to after Boxing Day, action would return on the week beginning Monday January 17.

Midweek fixtures would also be introduced to make up for any postponed rounds.

With clubs told to submit their preference by 5pm to the SPFL, the SPFL board will make a majority decision between them, with an announcement expected tonight.

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Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announces fresh spectator limits from Boxing Day - with outdoor events capped at 500, indoor seated events at 200, and indoor standing events at 100 for a minimum of three weeks

The SPFL board consists of chief executive Neil Doncaster, chairman Murdoch MacLennan and independent non-executive director Karyn McCluskey along with club representatives.

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Hibernian's Ron Gordon, Ross County's James McDonald and Rangers general manager Stewart Robertson are the Premiership representation on the board. Hamilton's Les Gray and Dunfermline's Ross McArthur are the Championship representatives, with Forfar's Alastair Donald and Airdrieonians' Paul Hetherington the League 1 and 2 reps on the board.

It is understood 10 out of 12 Premiership clubs want the winter break brought forward following the First Minister's announcement on Tuesday.

Nicola Sturgeon said all outdoor events in the country will be hit by the new restrictions which will limit attendances to 500 spectators from Boxing Day for three weeks.

Sturgeon revealed the new measures in parliament on Tuesday, which will also call for one-metre physical distancing to be in place between those who attend any outdoor event during that time.

That means the Premiership fixture schedule on Boxing Day and December 29 will be affected, while the Old Firm clash at Celtic Park plus Dundee and Edinburgh derbies on January 2/3 will be played in near-empty stadiums, as it stands.

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