SPFL launch investigation into Dundee v Rangers postponement

The Premiership match at Dens Park was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.

SPFL launch investigation into Dundee v Rangers postponement SNS Group

The Scottish Professional Football League is to launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the postponement of Dundee’s Premiership match against Rangers on Sunday.

Sunday’s match, which was to be televised by Sky, was called off just a couple of hours before kick-off after a pitch inspection found the surface at Dens to be unplayable and waterlogged.

The game will now have to be rearranged for a later date but the league is to probe the circumstances and look at whether everything was done to try and avoid cancelling the match.

An SPFL spokesperson said: “The postponement of any match is disappointing given the impact it has on supporters.

“This was particularly disappointing given the fact it was a live Sky Sports match and the proximity of the match to the split.

“The SPFL will be investigating the circumstances surrounding this postponement.”

Ranger manager Philippe Clement made his unhappiness known, saying that the state of the pitch and the postponement did not reflect well on Scottish football, while Dundee managing director John Nelms took the opposite view, saying only two areas of the pitch were affected and that the game was supposed to be “robust”.

Referee Don Robertson said that his concern was for player well-being and that there was a safety issue that left him with no option.

“The only consideration for me was the safety of the players,” he said.

“When I inspected the pitch there, it was quite clear that it wasn’t in a playable condition.

“The ball wasn’t bouncing, and there were a couple of areas of concern in front of the dugout and in the top penalty area.

“The ground staff have done a lot of work to be fair to them, but the ball is not bouncing at all in some of those areas, it wasn’t rolling, the conditions underfoot were dangerous for the players.

“So, it’s quite a simple decision after that.”

After heavy rain overnight, there was an initial 9.15am pitch inspection by local referee Craig Fordyce ahead of the scheduled noon kick-off and, following another inspection by Robertson at 10.15am, the game was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.

The postponement – Dundee’s third at the Scot Foam Stadium at Dens Park this season after matches against Aberdeen and St Johnstone were called off – means Celtic go into the international break with a one-point lead over the Ibrox men at the top of the table.

‘It has nothing to do with the weather’

Rangers boss Clement made his feelings clear after the postponement, insisting that the condition of the pitch prior to the overnight rain was the issue that had to be dealt with.

“We weren’t warned about it – not Saturday evening, during the night.

“I hear now that people started to work on the pitch at 5am in the morning. So, in that way they did their best.

“But we were only told there was an issue because our kitman was at the stadium early, at around 9.15am.

“He warned us about the situation and for me that’s a really strange thing.

“This will be the only pitch in all the leagues in Scotland where a game was postponed.

“That tells me that it has nothing to do with the weather.

“Yes, it rained, but it rained all over Scotland and there were pitches in other lower leagues where they could play football.

“There, the ball was bouncing. But here, the ball was not bouncing. So clearly there is something wrong.

“Also, there were spots on the pitch where they put lots of sand and there was no stability for the players. It is really dangerous for injuries.

“I think it’s a very important thing for the future that a league thinks about how to raise the level of the pitches and put standards on that like they do on other things.

“They have standards with things like lighting, for example, to have a good broadcast of the game and to have a good product.

“Sure, the lights are really important. But even more important is the quality of the pitches, I think.”

Rangers later released a statement backing up their manager’s stance.

It read: “Rangers, on behalf of our supporters, are extremely disappointed and angered with the late call-off of today’s match with Dundee.

“The first team have prepared as normal for the match, and it was not until this morning that any concerns over the playing surface were raised.

“It is not understood why the home club did not raise those concerns in a more timely manner, given the reoccurring issues they have had with their playing surface at earlier points in the season.

“The Rangers team and thousands of our supporters had already arrived at the stadium by the time a decision was reached.

Ground staff work on the pitch (Andrew Milligan/PA).PA Media

“This is the only match in the entire UK senior leagues to be postponed this weekend, and given it was to be shown on Sky Sports nationwide, reflects poorly on our game.”

Dundee are expected to defend their position during any investigation, with managing director Nelms saying on Sunday that they couldn’t have done more to avert the postponement.

“We are supposed to be one of the most robust leagues in the world,” he said. “The ball is rolling.

“We have had guys out here since 5am. We have done everything we could do to get this pitch in place. We have two small spots where the ball is not bouncing as we speak. The rest of the pitch is fine.”

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