Ref defends Rangers v Hearts decision

Rangers fans show their frustration after the match against Hearts is abandoned. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Rangers fans show their frustration after the match against Hearts is abandoned. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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REFEREE Bobby Madden insisted he made the right call to both start and then abandon last night’s Championship fixture between Rangers and Hearts at Ibrox.

The game was called off after just 24 goalless minutes as a snow-covered pitch became increasingly icy and dangerous.

As it did not reach half-time, supporters who attended – including more than 2,000 travelling Hearts fans – will gain free admission to the match when it is replayed upon submission of their original ticket stubs.

Having given the match the go-ahead after a 7pm pitch inspection, Madden had hoped conditions would improve sufficiently to allow it to be completed.

“It was the right decision to start the game,” said Madden. “The fans were inside the ground. It was the best decision to start the game and see what happened. When we arrived at the stadium, we felt it was acceptable.

“We were led to believe that the snow would not come back – which it didn’t – and that the snow would melt once the players were on the field of play and through the undersoil heating. Unfortunately, after starting the match, it didn’t seem to improve.

“I made the final decision based on player safety. The information was that the snow was forecast to come back on. There was a potential risk of injury. When you see the players running at 100 per cent, you could see they were struggling.

“So the decision was taken to abandon the match. Both coaches were concerned for the safety of their players. That is of paramount importance.

“I spoke to both coaches on different occasions before we took the final decision. Then we took the final decision and we gave the authorities, the police and the club enough time to put the infrastructure in place to deal with the abandonment.”

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