Dundee fined £186,000 by SPFL over condition of Dens Park pitch

The league have taken action after games were postponed at the Premiership club.

Dundee punished by SPFL over condition of Dens Park pitch SNS Group

Dundee have been fined by the SPFL over the multiple postponements of matches at Dens Park, caused by the condition of their pitch.

A disciplinary hearing resulted in the club being fined £186,000, though £120,000 of that sum is suspended until the end of season 2024/25 and would only be payable if there are continued problems.

A statement from the SPFL read: “At a disciplinary hearing today (18 April 2024), Dundee FC admitted five separate breaches of SPFL Rules relating to their Dens Park pitch.

“This followed postponements of cinch Premiership matches on 7 October 2023, 23 December 2023, 2 January 2024, 17 March 2024, and 10 April 2024.

“As a result, Dundee were fined £186,000, of which £120,000 is suspended until the end of season 2024/25.

“This suspended element will be automatically triggered in the event of a further breach of SPFL Rules relating to pitch condition next season.”

An SPFL spokesman commented: “SPFL rules on pitch condition are an integral part of maintaining a fair league competition.”

Dundee is considering an appeal against the punishment and have also said that they believe the SPFL’s communication and detail on the punishment is incorrect.

A statement on the club website said: “Following an SPFL disciplinary hearing today, Dundee FC has been advised of the Tribunal’s findings as set out in the below SPFL press release, which in our view is inaccurate.

“Dundee FC has in fact been fined £150,000, of which £120,000 is suspended until the end of season 2024/25. This suspended element will be automatically triggered in the event of a single waterlogged pitch postponement next season.

“In addition, £36,429.60 is payable as compensation to the SPFL for television and pitch specialist costs.

“Dundee Football Club are deeply disappointed with the severity of the punishment and are currently seeking legal advice with regards to an appeal.

“The club will be making no further comment on the outcome while we seek legal advice.”

The Premiership club had been called to account by the league after games were postponed on six occasions because of the condition of the playing surface.

The televised home match against Rangers went ahead on Wednesday at the third attempt, with the SPFL having put in place a contingency plan to move the match to St Johnstone’s McDiarmid Park if there had been further issues.

Rangers and other clubs had made their feelings known about the club’s problems in hosting their games, and the Ibrox club also criticised the SPFL over their handling of the problem.

A statement from the Ibrox club after the second postponement read: “The negligence and unprofessionalism demonstrated by Dundee Football Club, where they have repeatedly breached SPFL rules, continues to have a damaging effect on the top professional league in the country.

“Rangers expects the SPFL to take proportionate and decisive action in accordance with its rules, and the club will continue to make representations to them in the strongest possible manner.

“At this time, we sympathise fully once again with our supporters, approximately 4,000 of whom were looking forward to attending tonight’s game. Having already been left hugely inconvenienced and out of pocket by the first postponement last month, it is entirely unacceptable and disrespectful on the part of Dundee FC to have allowed this situation to have developed again.”

Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell had criticised the club, saying that they had benefitted from spending money on their playing squad that should have been used to improve their facilities and pitch.

Dundee have admitted that their pitch needs urgent work but club secretary Eric Drysdale drew further criticism, and some mockery, for claiming that climate change was a factor in the club’s problems.

“I can understand people are annoyed at this and are looking at it as Dundee’s fault,” he told Sky Sports.

“What I would say is that from the research we have done in the last few days this year’s rainfall is 35 per cent higher than the 10-year average – that shows the effects of climate change on it and it shows the work we have to do urgently on the Dens Park pitch.

“The pitch is of a very good quality but there have been a number of occasions when home fixtures have corresponded with bad weather such as the storms last October which was the highest rainfall ever recorded in Scotland and on the back of Storm Babette between Christmas and New Year when we had the fixture with St Johnstone. 

“It’s very clear that work needs to be done to rectify the situation and we absolutely recognise the challenges we face and the club will do what is needed.”

While the area has suffered significantly more rainfall than average over the last few months, Dundee United’s ground has not experienced major problems despite being located just 200 yards away.

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