IT is far from certain whether supporters will be able to attend the first Old Firm fixture of the season, after the Scottish Government said it is too early to predict whether it will be safe for fans to attend games by October.

The provisional SPFL fixtures were released on Monday, and although those matches at the beginning of August have yet to be given the green light to go ahead, it is expected that the SPFL will receive government approval to stage those matches behind closed doors.

The first meeting of the season between Celtic and Rangers is scheduled to take place at Celtic Park on October 17th, raising Celtic manager Neil Lennon’s hopes that his team would be backed by a vociferous home crowd for the match with their city rivals.

But a spokesperson for the Scottish Government has told Herald Sport that there is no date yet set for the return of supporters to stadia, and they will have to reassess the situation closer to the date of the match as the Covid-19 restrictions are slowly eased in the country.

The spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government understands the cultural and economic importance of fans attending sporting events and is working with sports’ governing bodies to ensure the safe return of supporters. However, it is too soon to say with any certainty when fans will be permitted back in large numbers.”

Meanwhile, the SPFL’s and SFA’s Coronavirus Joint Response Group has welcomed guidance from the Scottish Government that elite clubs will be able to reduce testing protocols to one round of testing per week, from week beginning Monday, 13 July.

Dr John MacLean, Scottish FA Medical Consultant, said: “We are pleased that Scottish Government has recognised the effort clubs have made to this point with a thorough testing regime and agree that from week beginning Monday, July 13, testing can be reduced to once-weekly in line with other sports governing bodies and with consideration to the general downward trajectory of the virus in Scotland.

“This news will be warmly received by clubs, but we will ensure the stringent safety measures will remain in place.”