Scottish Premiership retains winter break for season 2017-18

Callum McGregor and Perry Kitchen
Celtic and Hearts returned to league action last Sunday

Top-flight clubs in Scotland will again get a winter break next season, having done so during this campaign.

The Scottish Professional Football League has announced that the Premiership will stop for 19 days from 1 January 2018.

However, the SPFL say a majority of Championship clubs were against the introduction of a mid-season hiatus for the second tier.

The SPFL season across all four divisions will begin on 5 August 2017.

Prior to that August date, the League Cup first round - repeating this season's group stage format - will take place over the last two weeks in July.

And the final of that tournament will again take place in November, with this term's showpiece being played in the autumn after 17 seasons of spring finals.

The Championship and Leagues One and Two will conclude on the weekend of 28 April 2018.

The Premiership season will come to an end on Sunday 13 May 2018, with the Premiership play-off final second leg the following Sunday.

This season, top-flight clubs played their first league fixtures of 2017 over the weekend of 27-29 January, though they had Scottish Cup fourth-round ties the previous weekend.

"The volume of fixturing slots required for international and European football dates continues to represent a great challenge for leagues across Europe, however we have managed to maintain a large degree of consistency for next season in line with the current campaign," said SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster.

"Following overwhelmingly positive feedback regarding this season's winter break, most notably during a recent meeting with Premiership club managers and coaches, we've worked to retain this for season 2017-18. We also asked clubs in the Championship if they would like to see this introduced in their league, however the clear majority of feedback was against this."

SPFL key dates 2017-18

League Cup first round group stage - 15, 19, 22, 26 and 29 July 2017

Start of Premiership, Championship, Leagues One and Two - 5 August 2017

League Cup second round - 9 August 2017

League Cup quarter-finals - 19 and 20 September 2017

League Cup semi-finals - 21 and 22 October 2017

League Cup final 26 November 2017

Premiership winter break - 1-19 January 2018

Championship, League 1 and League 2 final fixtures - 28 April

Premiership final fixtures - 12 and 13 May 2018

Premiership play-off final first leg - 17 May 2018

Premiership play-off final second leg - 20 May 2018 (subject to contingency for a club also in the Scottish Cup final)