How are Scottish Premiership clubs spending their winter break?

Erik Sviatchenko and Stuart Armstrong
Celtic duo Erik Sviatchenko and Stuart Armstrong at Glasgow Airport on Friday

The festive season is over and for supporters of Scottish Premiership clubs it's cold turkey time - otherwise known as the winter shutdown.

It will be two weekends of enforced abstinence for followers of top-flight teams before they are back in action for the Scottish Cup fourth round on 21/22 January.

So how are the 12 clubs spending the break?

After a week off, a few are heading for sunnier climes to recharge the batteries and regroup for the second half of the season.

For Celtic, it's destination Dubai - with an average temperature of 19C, an average of eight hours of sunshine per day and just 10mm of rainfall expected this month.

Aberdeen players
Aberdeen, like Celtic, are also heading to Dubai

Boss Brendan Rodgers is promising his side will be back for 2017 better than before.

Third-placed Aberdeen are also making for the city state of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The Dons have arranged a match against FC Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan.

Partick Thistle are the only other sun-seekers in the Premiership, with Alan Archibald's players migrating from Maryhill to La Manga in Spain for a training camp. They have also arranged a friendly game against Belgian side Lokeren.

Kilmarnock are taking more of a budget break. Lee Clark's team are going to Gateshead in the north-east of England (average temperature 7C) for a couple of friendlies. They play Gateshead and then Newcastle Under-23s in a closed doors game.

Mark Warburton
Mark Warburton's Rangers will spend time in Germany

Rangers are on the road too. Mark Warburton's team are testing themselves against the club currently second in Germany's Bundesliga, Red Bull Leipzig - home to Scotland's Oliver Burke.

The rest are staying put - unless they book last-minute deals or set up bounce games.

"It's important to give the players a break, they'll have a few days off and then they'll get back to work next week," says Dundee manager Paul Hartley. "Our next game is St Mirren in the cup, we'd like to bring one or two players but one or two will probably have to go out too, but we've got four weeks to sort that out."

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright is a fan of the winter break. "I'm all for more midweek games to try and free up maybe a longer break in the summer and maybe a longer break in the winter," he told BBC Radio Scotland last month.

Motherwell are among those staying in Scotland, choosing to channel their 'staycation' savings towards improving the squad for the last four months of the campaign.

Ditto the Highland clubs Ross County and Inverness Caledonian Thistle, with a Caley Thistle spokesman saying: "Aside from having a few days off to spend with family, there will be nothing out of the ordinary for the players and they're back in for training next week."

Hamilton Academical released players earlier this week as they set about shaping their squad for the rest of the campaign while Ian Cathro will have his first transfer window as Hearts head coach, commenting recently: "We are not ruling out any market.

"If you look at the history of this league, very few clubs are spending transfer fees. However, if there were unique circumstances that represented good value and it was an opportunity, I think this is one of the few clubs that could be in a position to do that."

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