Why not consider supporters in cases of extreme fog?
As Ross County started the attack that would end with them going 3-1 up against Dundee United at Dingwall, there were audible boos and chants of 'what a waste of money' coming from the away end.
This was not a collective premonition experienced by those of a tangerine persuasion, foreseeing the two-goal deficit from which their team would not recover. Rather, it was several hundred frustrated spectators indignant at having been asked to pay £20 per head to see the Scottish Cup clash, only to have such a luxury taken away from them because of the weather.
Prior to kick-off, a thick fog had descended on Dingwall. After much deliberation, the officials decided to go ahead with the game. Afterwards, this was described as the right decision by Sportscene pundits. If it was undoubtedly the right decision, why were fans booing for sustained periods during the first half?
During the discussions of whether this game was to take place, were any supporters chiefs consulted on whether the fans would prefer to chance their luck and hope the fog would lift, as it began to in the second half, or return on the road down to Dundee for a rearranged fixture? I think we all know the answer.
This is not an “only in Scotland” moan. That particular gripe is heavily overused and often complete nonsense, such as in this instance. Across the world every year there are games that go ahead in fog with little regard for how the conditions affect fans.
It’s also not a criticism of referee Kevin Clancy. Under the rules of the game, if visibility was such that it allowed him to keep up with play and was able to see his assistants clearly, then he had every right to let the game go ahead.
It’s not even a dressing down of the SFA. As already stated, they’re far from the only football association to think such games are fine to kick-off, and there are other factors to take into consideration.
Instead, it’s a request that in future, referees are allowed to take into account what visibility will be like for supporters. Perhaps, as already stated, some sort of consultation with a couple of supporters’ representatives could take place. There’s every chance fans would be split on whether or not to begin the game or to postpone, but at least they could be made to feel part of the decision.
Fans of Scottish football already get a raw deal as it is. For the quality on offer, especially in comparison to some leagues on the continent, they are being asked to shell out too much. The cost was £20 for adults and £10 for concession tickets to gain access on Saturday. That’s probably a little too steep even when the whole pitch is visible.
Sure, it’s a pretty rare situation, but it will happen again. When it does, it would be great if our referees were encouraged to take supporters into consideration.