Motherwell and Rangers have criticised the SPFL after their December fixture was moved to Christmas Eve.
The Fir Park side were originally scheduled to host the game on December 23 but the league announced on Friday that the game has been pushed back to a lunchtime kick-off the following day and will be televised.
Motherwell believe that playing the day before Christmas will not only inconvenience supporters and force some fans to miss the game, but also affects the hospitality around the match, which had already been sold.
The club that while they accept the need to move games for television broadcast, the festive fixture is a special case and extensive discussion and consultation should have taken place. Rangers echoed that with their own statement and pointed out that their own requests for flexibility with scheduling had fallen on deaf ears.
A Motherwell statement read: “The club were informed of the decision to move our fixture against Rangers to Christmas Eve yesterday afternoon, an hour before the SPFL initially intended to announce publicly.
“Whilst we fully acknowledge that the contract which is currently in place between the SPFL and our main broadcasters allows kick off times to be moved from Saturday to Sunday midday, with an agreed notice period, we believe that moving a major fixture to this date is a special circumstance that should’ve led to additional consultation/ discussion with the club.
“We can only apologise to supporters who will be inconvenienced by this move and especially to those who will no longer be able to attend the game. We understand this move is particularly inconvenient for fans who had booked pre match hospitality, which was already sold out.
“We are working with suppliers to provide an alternative offering pre and post match. We hope to still see as many of our fans as possible at the game.”
Rangers also voiced their unhappiness about the decision. While saying that they appreciated the value of broadcasting games, the club suggested that flexibility in scheduling was one-sided.
A club spokesperson said: “Rangers are disappointed to have learned today our fixture with Motherwell, originally scheduled for December 23, has been moved to Christmas Eve, December 24.
“The club fully appreciates the lengths our supporters travel for these matches and the sacrifices that are made in order to back their team at every opportunity.
“Sky Sports’ movement of the match to Christmas Eve, a day where many supporters will have other plans and also, where public transport is limited, feels unnecessary given the potential broadcast slots available to them on the Saturday.
“The club also learned of this fixture change only an hour prior to its external announcement, which allowed no time for any dialogue or debate with either Sky Sports or the SPFL.
“Earlier this season, the club asked for our fixture with St Mirren on Sunday October 8 to kick-off later than 12noon given the team flew over five hours back from Cyprus on the Friday evening, to allow for more preparation and recovery time. This request was denied.
“Sky Sports are a valued league partner, and as a club, we enjoy a strong working relationship with them. This decision, however, is extremely poor and shows a lack of regard to our supporters.”
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