Dundee's Dens Park drama takes another twist: 11am inspection, Motherwell and SPFL set out stances, Rangers match

Referee Dickinson will inspect surface on Saturday morning as league fears calendar conundrum

Dundee’s Dens Park surface will need to pass a pitch inspection on Saturday morning if the Premiership match between them and Motherwell is to be staged as planned.

Heavy rain has fallen on Tayside all week and while the Dees have brought in pitch specialists and have loaned covers from Celtic, there remain concerns over whether the game can be held at Dens Park. With time running out for a rescheduled date given all pre-split matches need to be completed by the weekend of April 13, Dundee may need to find an alternative place to host the game, with Airdrie’s Excelsior Stadium mooted as one potential venue. Dens Park is also due to host the match between Dundee and Rangers on Wednesday night, which was postponed last month due to a waterlogged pitch.

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Match referee David Dickinson will check over the pitch at 11am on Saturday to deem whether the game can be played. Motherwell are aware of the situation and Brian Caldwell, the club’s new chief executive, revealed that the Scottish Professional League have come up with a series of alternative plans, some of which Caldwell described as “nuts”. He said that the Steelmen’s preference would be to push back some of the post-split fixtures. It is understood that the SPFL are reluctant to do so for fear of causing a calendar nightmare.

There are concerns over the Dens Park pitch, with Dundee due to host Motherwell on Saturday.There are concerns over the Dens Park pitch, with Dundee due to host Motherwell on Saturday.
There are concerns over the Dens Park pitch, with Dundee due to host Motherwell on Saturday.

“The SPFL are really keen that we play the game this weekend,” Caldwell said. “A number of scenarios have been put to us. One of them was that if the game is off on Saturday we would play it on Sunday and if it is off on Sunday then we would play it on Monday.

“That is not practical on the football side of it. Another one was that we play it at Airdrie behind closed doors which is just nuts for me. We are a spectator sport and we have to look after our own supporters. We have to make sure they are at the game. So our position has been quite clear to the SPFL. This is not our fault and has nothing to do with this football club, so why should we have the hassle of it all?

“Our clear position is that we play on Saturday at Dens or we reschedule the game for another time and if that means that the post-split fixtures are pushed back then so be it. Playing behind closed doors is ridiculous and I think if we are forced down that line, we will stand firm and not do it. I think Scottish football will support us because it is not our problem but is becoming our problem. Unfortunately I am quite vociferous because it is not right and if something is not right in football, I will say it.”

An SPFL statement read on Friday: “The Dundee v Motherwell cinch Premiership match remains scheduled for Saturday at 3pm at Dens Park, with a pitch inspection to be carried out by the match referee at 11am tomorrow to confirm that the pitch remains playable. We have been working on a number of contingency measures to ensure the match goes ahead in the coming days. We have huge sympathy with Motherwell and its supporters, who are in no way to blame for the current situation, but the fixture list must be fulfilled due to the impending split. We remain in discussion with both clubs and will provide a further update following Saturday’s pitch inspection.”

Dundee are currently sixth in the Premiership, a point ahead of Hibs in seventh, with Motherwell sitting eighth in the table, six points behind the Dee.



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