Partick Thistle and Motherwell reacted furiously yesterday after next season’s Premiership fixture list was released with the two sides and Hamilton Accies handed just one visit apiece by Celtic and Rangers before the split.
It prompted demands that the fixtures be redrawn amid claims the clubs face being left out of pocket.
The top-flight programme is the first to include Rangers since 2012 but the much-anticipated return of Old Firm league derbies was overshadowed by the fact that pre-split visits by the country’s big two were not evenly spread.
Along with Hamilton, Thistle and Motherwell are scheduled to host the Old Firm clubs just once each before the league splits in April – unlike Dundee, Inverness and Hearts, who are set to bank a lucrative windfall from welcoming the big two to their grounds four times.
Prior to Rangers being liquidated, each team would host Celtic twice and Rangers once, or vice versa pre-split.
That will not be the case this time and in strongly worded statements, Partick and Motherwell demanded immediate action to address this.
Motherwell expressed “extreme anger”, adding: “This has a serious financial impact on our club, and we cannot and will not accept it.
“It creates a significant financial advantage for some clubs over others and in our view, just as important, compromises the integrity of the competition. We expect this unacceptable position to be reversed immediately.”
The Thistle statement read: “In previous seasons where both Rangers and Celtic were in the Premiership, pre-split fixtures have been organised to ensure that every club plays three home games against the Old Firm. Without any notification from the SPFL to the contrary, we had expected that this practice would continue this season and that is the basis on which we and other clubs have budgeted.
“However, this season we, Motherwell and Hamilton have been handed only two Old Firm games at home whilst Dundee, Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Hearts have four home games. That means an expected loss in revenues for the club of £120,000 before a ball is even kicked, whilst other clubs will get an unexpected bonus of a similar figure. Financial implications aside, we believe there is a significant sporting disadvantage created by the fixture list as it stands. Pre-split, we will make four trips away to the two biggest clubs in the country while some clubs will only make two.
“Partick Thistle intends to seek compensation from the SPFL for all clubs concerned or that they reconsider the fixture list to ensure a level playing field for all.”