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Return of Old Firm tipped to take Scots game to a new level

By Andy Newport

Scottish Professional Football League chief Neil Doncaster believes the world is about to sit up and take notice of the Ladbrokes Premiership once more as Celtic and Rangers prepare to resume hostilities.

The Ibrox club will make their top-flight return when they raise the curtain at home to Hamilton on Saturday.

They are then due to travel across Glasgow to face their old rivals at Celtic Park on September 10 as the Old Firm derby makes its league comeback after a four-year hiatus.

And Doncaster believes the additions of big names such as new Hoops boss Ulsterman Brendan Rodgers - the former Liverpool manager's side kick-off their campaign at Hearts on Sunday - and Gers summer signing Joey Barton will only spread the appeal of Scotland's showpiece competition around the globe.

The SPFL chief executive said: "I think there's a huge sense of anticipation and excitement looking ahead to the opening round of the Ladbrokes Premiership this weekend.

"There's clearly the return of real box office with the likes of Brendan Rodgers at Celtic and Joey Barton at Rangers.

"So I think there will be a lot of people tuning in around the world, not just the UK. We've got over 100 countries now taking the rights to our games all around the world looking forward to the season ahead.

"It's massive having the Old Firm derby back on the schedule. It's the one game which perhaps defines the Ladbrokes Premiership around the world."

Dundee have come up with their own plans to cash in on the worldwide reach of the Celtic fanbase after announcing their intention to stage a Premiership fixture with the Parkhead outfit in the United States.

The Hoops grabbed a vital away goal against FC Astana in last week's Champions League third qualifying round first leg in Kazakhstan and will look to finish the job when they stage the Glasgow return tomorrow.

Belfast Telegraph


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