The announcement that Celtic will start the new season with a 5.15pm kick-off at home to Ross County seems to have divided opinion among supporters.
After years of complaints about lunchtime kick-off’s news of the flag day fixture starting at 5.15pm hasn’t been universally welcomed.
Almost all fans would prefer 3pm Saturday kick-off’s but with that slot not possible for live broadcasting I think that a 5.15pm start is much better than a ‘late breakfast’ kick-off between noon and 1pm.
Although 5.15pm isn’t ideal it seems much more supporter friendly that lunchtime slots in outposts like Inverness, Dingwall and Aberdeen.
That option will be back again in the third week of the season when the Celtic support is required to get to Pittordrie for a 12.30 kick-off.
While the views of supporters is crucial the impact on players is equally important with early kick-off’s noted for their slow starts.
Getting players awake, fed and prepared for a 12.30 kick off is a much tougher task that for a 5.15pm start which allows for more natural breakfast and lunch times before getting into game mode.
Leaving hotels shortly after breakfast time is certainly a challenge with 12 noon kick-off’s requiring players to be delivered to the stadium shortly after 10am.
One argument that I heard recently was that it ought to suit the players who do the majority of their training in the morning. It’s hard to argue with that viewpoint but there is a big distinction between playing and training with players themselves unhappy with earlier kick-off’s.
With television calling the shots supporters will only ever be an after thought, if given the choice I’d imagine the majority of fans would prefer a 5.15 kick off ahead of the 12.30 starts that we’ve had to get used to in the television era.