New Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou handed Rangers clash four games into new season
By Andy Newport
NEW Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou is set for a swift introduction to Old Firm hostilities after being handed his first derby clash just four games into the new cinch Premiership campaign.
The Hoops finally appointed Neil Lennon's successor last week and the Greek-born Australian will not have long to get his team ready to face reigning champions Rangers, with a trip to Ibrox scheduled for Saturday, August 28.
Postecoglou is already facing a race against time with Celtic's opening Champions League qualifier just five weeks away and a major rebuild required after last year's crumbled 10-in-a-row attempt.
And the former Yokohama F. Marinos manager will have to sharpen his focus even further now that the new top-flight fixtures for the 2021-22 season have thrown up a tricky opening-day trip to Tynecastle to take on Hearts, which will be shown on Sky Sports, plus that early showdown with Steven Gerrard's rampant Invincibles.
The Light Blues lifted their first title in a decade last term and will hoist that historic flag high before kicking off their bid for league crown number 56 when they host Livingston in a televised clash at 1.30pm on Saturday, July 31.
Postecoglou's side will provide the opposition for Robbie Neilson's Championship winners later that day as the Jambos hold their own flag-day celebrations at 8pm.
Play-off winners Dundee will make their own return to the top division after a two-year absence when they welcome St Mirren to Dens Park for a 3pm kick-off. At the same time St Johnstone will look to build on last year's incredible cup double when the travel to Ross County, who will also have a new boss in charge following Malky Mackay's appointment.
The traditional New Year Old Firm head-to-head is pencilled in for January 2 at Celtic Park, while the big two square off again at Ibrox on April 2. The fourth and final derby of the season will take place after the split.
Meanwhile, the winter break - scrapped by SPFL chiefs last year due to the coronavirus pandemic - makes its return, with the top flight set to shut down for three weeks between January 2 and January 26.