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Rodgers 'sad for society' if Celtic are denied chance to win Premiership title against Rangers

By Ronnie Esplin

Brendan Rodgers has urged the Scottish Professional Football League to embrace rather than avoid a possible post-split title-deciding clash between Celtic and Rangers.

The Hoops went to within one victory of their seventh successive Ladbrokes Premiership title with a 2-1 victory at Hamilton, where substitute Leigh Griffiths scored the winner after Rakish Bingham had cancelled out Callum McGregor's early opener.

Hamilton midfielder Darren Lyon was sent off just before the break by referee Andrew Dallas for picking up two yellow cards, both for clashes with Kieran Tierney.

Celtic moved 13 points clear of Rangers and Aberdeen and could wrap up the league in the first game after the split.

However, when the fixtures are imminently announced it is likely their first match will not be against Rangers, whom they play in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park next Sunday, which irks Rodgers.

"I think it's sad for Scottish football and it's sad for society in Scotland," said the Celtic boss.

"In probably any other country in the world, they would look to play the game and showcase your football and country on telly - whether it was Real Madrid v Barcelona, Manchester United v Manchester City or AC Milan v Inter.

"But for some reason we can't do that here which is a sad indictment of the world that it is here at times.

"But if it's one they want to do, then they should do it and put it at an appropriate kick-off time and trust that people can behave themselves and play the game and show it as a great advert for Scottish football.

"Don't bury your head in the sand and hope things don't happen."

The football authorities in Scotland have always been wary of the scenario where one side of the Old Firm can possibly win the title against the other since the trouble which occurred in 1999 when Rangers won the league at Celtic Park, before the split had been introduced to Scottish football.

Referee Hugh Dallas, father of Andrew Dallas, was injured by a missile amid some stormy scenes at Parkhead.

However, Rodgers said: "Let's live and learn. I know they are trying to avoid what happened in 1999 but it's been a long time since then.

"You have to show that football and society has changed for the better and you can make it work.

"Hopefully they will do that - if that's what they want to do and not just try and avoid it.

"Scotland is a wonderful country with passionate supporters so make it a great advert - let's not run away from it."

Hamilton boss Martin Canning strongly disputed Lyon's red card.

He said: "I didn't think it was a red card. I thought it was a really soft decision.

"I actually thought it was a foul for us. Kieran Tierney's jumped in on Darren Lyon.

"There's obviously a coming together and I think Darren pulls to get himself back into the game and Tierney away from him.

"I felt Tierney goes down a bit easily as well, throws himself a bit.

"For me it's never a second yellow card. "

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