The SPL are facing a fixture crisis with no room in the calendar to extend the season due to international commitments.
Scotland’s Carling Cup fixtures with Wales and Ireland on May 25 and 29 leaves the SPL with little leeway to fit in outstanding matches.
The five match post split fixtures are scheduled to take place between April 23 and May 14 with the Scottish Cup final on May 21.
In 2008 when the season was extended to accommodate Rangers the SPL had a fortnight between the last scheduled SPL fixture and the Scottish Cup final.
That extension meant that Celtic and others had to wait 11 days between their second and last fixtures while Walter Smith’s side kept sharp with three fixtures over the same period.
This season there is only one week between the last scheduled SPL fixtures and the Scottish Cup final with the Europa League final in Dublin taking place during that midweek.
As things stand the SPL have 15 fixtures outstanding with the weather likely to wipe out this week’s re-scheduled matches taking the tally to 18.
With no sign of the ‘cold snap’ relenting it’s likely that the list of outstanding fixtures could be over 30 by the start of the new year leaving the SPL to effectively find five matchdays to conclude their season on schedule.
February, March and April are free of midweek fixtures with the only threat coming from Scottish Cup replays or Rangers continuing in the Europa League.
One thing that the SPL should do is insist that all SPL clubs have a working and maintained pitch protection system rather than having matches postponed due to burst pipes and boilers.
It’s almost pointless having undersoil heating that is being switched on and off, keeping the system running reduces the chances of failure and ensures that when outside conditions are passable games can go ahead. It also gives players a chance to train on grass prior to matches.
There’s no doubt that maintaining pitches and keeping fixtures upto date is challenging during severe weather and it’s irresponsible to hold football matches when the authorities are advising against travel.
But every game that is played just now is one less to be rescheduled in the spring and prevents the sporting integrity of the game coming into question.
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