Rangers: Allan McGregor queries ‘sporting integrity’ of earlier shutdown – BBC Sport

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst is unflustered over the prospect of losing players including Joe Aribo (left) for the Old Firm derby
Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst is unflustered over the prospect of losing players including Joe Aribo (left) for the Old Firm derby

Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor has questioned the “sporting integrity” of bringing forward the Scottish Premiership winter break.

Two rounds of fixtures have been rearranged, with 10 of 12 clubs voting in favour of an earlier shutdown – starting after Sunday’s games – after crowds were capped at 500.

Rangers’ game at Aberdeen and derby trip to Celtic have been pushed back.

“I don’t see why it didn’t go on the way as planned,” said McGregor.

Asked whether clubs voted on sporting grounds or to gain an advantage for themselves, he said: “Well, we all know sporting integrity is one of the biggest things in Scotland, don’t we? So I would like to hope not.

“But if that is the case, ooft, sporting integrity, as we know in the last few years, is a massive part of Scottish football.”

McGregor, whose side are six points clear at the top and host St Mirren on Sunday, says Scottish football has to “learn to live with” the virus.

He said: “If there’s a new variant in three months, four months, five months, which there probably will be, are we going to shut up shop again?

“We take all the precautions we possibly can. It’s unfortunate that clubs have got players with Covid but it’s going to happen. I think you just need to live with that.”

‘No frustration’ over derby absentees – Van Bronckhorst

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst says he is not frustrated by the prospect of having key players unavailable for the rearranged Old Firm showdown because of international commitments.

Joe Aribo, Leon Balogun and Calvin Bassey have been called up by Nigeria for the looming Africa Cup of Nations, and the 2 February derby with Celtic is one of six matches they could miss.

“Not at all, said Van Bronckhorst. “It’s just the way football is. Of course you want to have all your players available but you also know that sometimes the international calendar is not synchronised with the league.

“So frustration, for me, is not a good word. It’s just handling the situation as it comes.”

Van Bronckhorst confirmed Rangers were against bringing forward the Premiership shutdown from 4 January, but insists they respect the decision.

“I think we were clear as a club that we had our arguments, our standpoint in playing on for the last two games before the [original] break,” said the Dutchman.

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