SPL defend Christmas Eve games
Scottish Premier League secretary Iain Blair has urged fans to embrace the opportunity to watch their teams in action on Christmas Eve. The SPL fixtures were released on Friday and revealed that top-flight matches are set to be played on December 24 this year. Blair knows the plan is likely to be met with mixed views but felt the weekend slot was preferable to evening games at other stages in the campaign. He said: "December 24 falls on a Saturday and it was felt it was preferable to use this date rather than say a midweek in November or January. "Boxing Day was ruled out as there is a full midweek card on December 28 and that would mean clubs playing two matches in three days. "We appreciate this might not find favour with everyone but hopefully fans can kick off the Christmas celebrations by watching their team notch up a victory." On the prospect of fans having to travel long distances for midweek and festive period matches, Blair added: "Midweek games are less of a problem this season because the early start means there is only one midweek card outside of the Christmas period. "In terms of the games around Christmas and New Year, we have done our best to limit tough travel but in a national league, with Aberdeen and Inverness geographically isolated, there is only so much we can do." However, Aberdeen have already indicated they will ask the SPL to switch the date of their Christmas Eve visit to Inverness. Dons chief executive Duncan Fraser said: "All clubs have been allocated a fixture on Christmas Eve - in our case a trip to Inverness. "The SPL I know will look to work with clubs that may seek to bring that game forward and that is something we will try to do nearer the time. "I'm sure many of our supporters will baulk at the thought of a game on a day that is traditionally a time for families to be together." The opening day of the season sees champions Rangers host Hearts, Celtic travel to Hibernian, Aberdeen face St Johnstone, Inverness make the trip to Motherwell and Dundee United welcome Kilmarnock. Newly-promoted Dunfermline mark their return to the SPL with a home game against St Mirren and Paul Gallacher insists there will be no room for sentiment when he faces his former club. The goalkeeper parted company with Saints this summer to return to East End Park for his second spell with the Pars, who are back in the top flight following a four-season absence. And Gallacher admits the curtain-raiser is a crucial match for the Irn-Bru First Division champions as they bid to kick off the campaign with a victory. He told Sky Sports News: "It's a massive game for us but it's one that I'm looking forward to. "I'm a Dunfermline player now and I'll be looking to do my best for the club and hopefully we can get a result in that game."
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