Ange's Celtic getting early winter break

·3-min read

Scotland's top-flight teams will pause for a winter break after playing their Boxing Day fixtures.

The decision was taken by the Scottish Professional Football League board on Wednesday after more than 24 hours of discussions following new restrictions on live events in Scotland.

Ten of the 12 Premiership clubs, including Celtic, Hibernian and Hearts, were in favour of starting the winter break immediately after the Scottish government limited crowds at outdoor events to 500 for a period up to three weeks.

"I don't like football played behind closed doors. We had a season of it in Japan, I just didn't enjoy it. It becomes a different game, a different environment for the players," Celtic's Australian boss Ange Postecoglou said.

Boxing Day games will go ahead as planned in front of limited crowds.

Fixtures from December 29 and January 2-3 have been put back to January 17-18 and February 1-2 respectively.

Premiership clubs were initially due to begin their winter break after the Edinburgh derby on January 3 and then return with Scottish Cup action around the weekend of January 22-23.

"We have advised our clubs that any postponements increase the risk of further disruption to an already highly congested fixture calendar ...," SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said.

"However, a majority favour the postponement of fixtures to give a chance for games scheduled to be played over the festive period to be played in front of fans, once the three-week period of restrictions comes to an end."

Rangers and Ross County were believed to want the games to go ahead as scheduled.

None of Scotland's lower divisions have a winter break.

In Spain, players from the top two divisions will undergo daily antigen tests for COVID-19, according to new health protocols set out by LaLiga.

League bosses are tightening controls to face a new wave of infections driven by the more contagious Omicron variant with top-flight leaders Real Madrid having reported eight positive cases among their first-team squad.

In the NBA, Dallas star Luka Doncic entered the NBA's health and safety protocols on Wednesday, adding his name to the list of top players who might be sidelined for games on Christmas because of coronavirus-related concerns.

That news came not long after the NBA called off the next game for both the Toronto Raptors and the Brooklyn Nets due to COVID-19 issues, after determining neither had the minimum eight players necessary to start a contest.

The moves raise the total number of postponements this season in the NBA to nine because of virus-related reasons with the league entering Wednesday with 84 players from 20 teams known to be in the protocols.

In the NFL, the Cleveland Browns got their coach back on the sideline but the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles might be without theirs for this weekend's games.

Browns second-year coach Kevin Stefanski cleared COVID-19 protocols to return to the team after missing one game while the Jets' Robert Saleh and the Eagles' Nick Sirianni tested positive for coronavirus after feeling symptoms in the morning.

with AP

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