The circus sideshow is over. There is a Scottish Premiership title to be won.

On the day Brendan Rodgers broke his silence on his one-match ban from the Scottish FA, the media's focus of attention had somehow switched to the clash against Rangers at Ibrox on Sunday, April 7.

The Celtic manager will be absent from the technical area for the match against Livingston this Sunday. He will, of course, return to the dug-out for the crucial Glasgow derby match against Rangers after receiving a one-match immediate ban and another one-match ban that was suspended until the end of the campaign.

Rodgers knows his history though. It was former Celtic boss Jock Stein who famously opined that his side only got the same two points for beating Rangers as they did anybody else. The Northern Irishman channelled his inner Stein as the pre-match duties to preview the Livingston game threatened to become a blip on the landscape. For the time being, Rangers, Philippe Clement and Ibrox can wait.

It would all be rendered stupid really if Celtic were to drop any league points against David Martindale's men in West Lothian this weekend. Rodgers means business. His focus is on the Lions. Nothing else. It is largely why the 51-year-old steered the conversation back around to the Livi game at one juncture despite being asked how he felt about the fact that away allocations for the Glasgow derby matches would return next season after a breakthrough in ticket negotiations.

Both clubs appear to have agreed to receive a five per cent allocation at both stadia next season. Under the new arrangement, Celtic could expect to have 2,500 inside Ibrox next season. That's all well and good, but there was a small matter of a game of association football to be won at the Tony Macaroni Arena this weekend even if Celtic were heading to Govan next weekend without the backing of their fans.

READ MORE: Fans return to Celtic vs Rangers as new-style away allocation agreed

Rodgers said: "It’s absolutely great news for everyone. It’s something that this club have championed for a number of years. It’s the iconic nature of the fixture because of the supporters.

"To be able to get two and a half thousand supporters into the stadium - hopefully over time that can up - to have them in is everything. That’s what the game is about, the game is about the players on the field and supporters in the stand, especially in this fixture. This is what makes it. It’s absolutely fantastic news, and not before time as well.

"The aim at Celtic was never to change it. If we can get it back to what it was, before it was changed, then that would be great news for everyone."


At that moment Rodgers was then asked if it made a difference going into a hostile environment without any fans. His response was as emphatic as it gets as he steered the topic of conversation back to Livingston and the previous league and Scottish Cup encounters between the pair this season.

Celtic triumphed 3-0 in West Lothian back in September despite having goalkeeper Joe Hart sent off on that occasion. That was followed by a 2-0 home win in December and a 4-2 success at Celtic Park in the Scottish Cup quarter-final earlier this month. He said: "You know we have a game on Sunday? I’m only interested in the game. We’ll talk about that next week.

"We saw only a few weeks ago that we played Livingston and they gave us a tough game. We were very good going forward in the game, but gave up too much on the other side, so that’s something that we will need to be better in. Overall, I’m really happy with where we’re at after the international break, with getting players back and the squad looking strong.

"The players have been really good in training and we look to take that into the game. We know it’ll be a challenge for us as it always is at Livingston, but we played well there last time and we will look to do that again."

However, Rodgers will experience a career first when he serves his ban from the touchline as he has never been placed in such a position before throughout his distinguished managerial life. He admitted that he still harboured a sense of disappointment for copping any ban from the SFA after a breach of Rule 72 which forbids criticising match officials “ such a way as to indicate bias or incompetence”.

He revealed that he had no regrets about the comments he made in the aftermath of a 2-0 defeat by Hearts at Tynecastle. With Aberdeen, Rangers and Motherwell all calling out VAR this season, Rodgers confessed he would welcome the chance to sit down and discuss various issues but he stressed that his shtick has always been to try and drive up the standards of football in this country at all levels - officiating, VAR and standard of pitches included.

READ MORE: Celtic's Brendan Rodgers reacts to upcoming touchline ban

He said: "No. I think there is just a misunderstanding of the interpretation.

"In my time here I have always talked about improving standards, whether that is with VAR on this occasion or whether it was the pitches we play on. My whole drive always up here is to improve the standards and I just thought on that day it wasn't quite where we would want it to be and was maybe misconstrued or misunderstood. But, certainly, I have no regret over it, no.

"VAR is one of those operations that we want to see improve. It has only been up here a short period of time but we all want to develop it and improve it. The standards of what we try to create in the league have always been at the forefront of my mind."

Rodgers even had time to joke that he wouldn't be partaking in any other sporting activities despite serving a one-game ban. He said: "I won’t be going golfing, that’s for sure! The ban, it’s disappointing to get banned for the first time in my career, but I respect the decision and we’ll find a way around it. We’ve prepared all week and in the next couple of days, we’ll be finalising that. The players going and I’ll have the seat in the stand and I’m sure I’ll be able to have communication from there.

"I've not been overly thinking about it. It was only confirmed yesterday (Thursday) but I have always been a coach who has loved being pitch-side with the players so if I need to make any quick changes I am there.

"I have also got big trust in my staff here as well. We will be in communication and the players will go into the game knowing exactly what it is that they have to do. We'll have that communication with the bench."

He was also at pains to point out how much Celtic had backed him in his fight with Scottish football's governing body and how much he appreciated the clubs' support. Rodgers said: "Listen, it is what it is. I was disappointed with the one-game ban and the one suspended. The SFA handled it all very professionally.

"I have to say a huge thanks to the club because Celtic gave me unwavering support in the defence of the breach. We accept it and we move on from it."

Celtic Way:

READ MORE: Celtic legend Jock Stein remembered: Three Kings filmmaker Jonny Owen on the great man's legacy

Celtic are indeed moving on. USA central defender Cameron Carter-Vickers will continue his rehabilitation from injury and midfield Japanese playmaker Reo Hatate will make his long-awaited return from the sidelines. Influential skipper Callum McGregor will not be risked on the synthetic surface ahead of next weekend's trip to the home of their fierce title rivals.

With eight games to go in the race for the Scottish Premiership flag, Rodgers is not consumed by the prospect of the impending third Glasgow derby of the season against Rangers next weekend. For Stein's two points read Rodgers' three points. If Rodgers' men are going to win the race for the league flag then Celtic are going to have to beat everybody else, not just Rangers and that starts by getting a win against Livingston on Sunday.

You get the feeling that the great man himself, Stein, would most definitely approve of that kind of thinking.