Scotland fixture pile-up looms as new Ukraine World Cup play-off date is confirmed

Scotland are facing the prospect of a summer fixture pile-up after confirmation of a new date for the delayed World Cup play-off against Ukraine at Hampden Park.

Steve Clarke’s men could have five matches in the first two weeks of June if they beat Ukraine and take on Wales in Cardiff.

The Ukraine semi-final showdown, which was due to be played on March 24 but had been postponed due to Russian invasion, will now go ahead on Wednesday, June 1, the SFA has announced, with the winners scheduled to play Wales in the play-off final in Cardiff four days later on Sunday, June 5.

The new date for the Ukraine clash comes just four days after the Champions League final in Paris on Saturday, May 28, which could feature Scotland captain Andy Robertson with his Liverpool side set to face Villarreal in the semi-finals at the end of the month.

Steve Clarke's Scotland will face Ukraine at Hampden on June 1 - with the winners taking on Wales in Cardiff for a place at Qatar 2022 four days later. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

The English Championship final also takes place 24 hours later and could feature squad regulars such as Scott McKenna or Ryan Christie.

Scotland’s original Nations League fixtures for June have been rescheduled to accommodate the two potential play-off ties with Armenia now visiting Hampden on Wednesday, June 8 before an away tie against the Republic of Ireland on Saturday, June 11.

Clarke’s side will then complete, potentially, five matches in a fortnight by travelling to Armenia on Tuesday, June 14.

It had been mooted that the June 1 showdown with Ukraine could double-up as a Nations League fixture but instead the Nations League match originally slated for June will now form part of a September triple-header, with that tie now taking place on Wednesday 21st at Hampden with Republic of Ireland visiting Glasgow on Saturday 24th, before an away fixture against Ukraine on Tuesday 27th.

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell had been in Switzerland holding talks with Uefa and left satisfied with Scotland's revised schedule.

“Firstly, it will be great to be able to welcome to Ukraine to Hampden Park in June,” he said. “While, understandably, there will be two sets of competitive players who are committed to taking another step closer to World Cup qualification, we also understand and appreciate the wider context in which the match will take place.

“We have been consistent throughout that postponing the original tie was the right and only thing to do and look forward to hosting Ukraine at Hampden Park in June.”

Kick-off times have still to be confirmed by Uefa but tickets purchased for the original Ukraine match in March will remain valid.

Meanwhile, Ukraine are set to warm up for the clash with friendlies against France and North Macedonia in spite of the ongoing conflict.

Special permission has been granted for Ukraine's footballers to leave the country for the matches, and Ukrainian FA vice-president Oleg Protasov says the war-torn nation is ramping up preparations for the Hampden semi-final against Scotland.

“Now we are looking for good training camps and sparring partners,” said Protasov. “We really believe that we should not just play, but win the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, and we need to prepare well.

“Our guys were in good shape and from our side, we need to give them the opportunity to stay in this shape.

“Now we are in the process of negotiations with some countries for training camps and holding matches with France and North Macedonia, but we will tell you about this a little later.”