Dundee United have won the right to host both Motherwell on Celtic on a Saturday afternoon, by beating local rivals Dundee on the flip of a coin – but the Dens Park club are far from happy at having to move 2 matches back to Sunday afternoons.
Dundee are upset that they’ve had to move 2 Division 1 games back 24 hours to accommodate Dundee United, despite the Tannadice club already losing out twice this season in similar scheduling clashes.
Earlier this year, United were granted permission to move their New Year’s day clash with Falkirk back 24-hours, but since Dundee were due to play Livingston on the same afternoon, the Tannadice match had remained on the 1st of January.
Craig Levein’s side eventually lost 5-1 to the Bairns on New Year’s day, their 2nd game in just 3 days after beating Aberdeen 3-1 at home a few days earlier.
Then, when both city clubs were drawn at home in the 3rd round of the Scottish Cup, it was Dundee that had priority again – after they came out of the ‘hat’ first and United were forced to play their cup match on the Sunday instead.
Dundee United’s Scottish Cup clash against Saint Mirren was eventually postponed by the SFA – because many of Craig Levein’s 1st team were struck-down by a vicious flu bug that swept through the ranks.
Still, it would have been only fair that Dundee United should have first choice the next time there was a scheduling clash – but Dundee refused to back down and the dates were decided by the toss of a coin.
United director Gibby Haggart won the toss and that means Tannadice will play host to both Motherwell and Celtic on Saturday afternoon’s next month – Saturday 10th March and Saturday 31st March respectively,
“It shouldn’t have been allowed to come to this but thankfully it has been resolved now,” said director Haggart.
However, Dundee chief executive Dave McKinnon wasn’t happy that this fixture-farce had to be decided by flipping a coin, because the SFA and the SPL should’ve taken steps to prevent such problems occurring at the start of the season.
“It’s a shame we’ve lost but we’ll stick by the way the coin fell and move our games,” admitted McKinnon.
“The entire thing has been a nonsense from start to finish because this should never have been allowed to happen.”
“The clubs complained about too many clashes last season but again this year we’ve ended up with games going head-to-head one week and no games at all in the city the next.”
“We contacted the SPL and SFL to sort it out but too many people are driven by self-interest and are happy to turn their back on their responsibilities.”
“It’s time everyone started looking at the bigger picture and working together. I wasn’t happy with the position we were left in. The onus has really been left on us to sort out a problem on behalf of the SPL and SFL.”
“It’s incredible that both United and ourselves have been put in this position, especially as this issue has dragged on for a few seasons now.”
Although, SFL secretary Peter Donald explained that the SPL’s hands are tied, because of agreement with sports channel Setanta – which dictates when live matches must be scheduled.
“We had a meeting with the SPL but there was little flexibility in the SPL fixture list because of their contractual obligations to Setanta,” he admitted.
“Although the SPL indicated there may be a possibility to relocate the Motherwell fixture, but there would then be a pressure to fulfill their fixtures with them having a game so soon on the following Tuesday.”