Falkirk fans will stay away to watch

There will be no big turnout of Falkirk fans at Dumbarton - but it's not the fault of the clubs
There will be no big turnout of Falkirk fans at Dumbarton - but it's not the fault of the clubs

Faithful Falkirk fans will turn their backs on the team this weekend in protest at the SPFL schedule which hands the Bairns two consecutive 5.30p.m. kick offs either side of Christmas.

Club chairman Martin Ritchie aired his grievance to SPFL chief Neil Doncaster last month when it was revealed BBC Alba will screen the visit to Dumbarton on Saturday and the home match with Raith Rovers on December 27. The live show will mean a late kick off once the Gaelic channel is on air.

Falkirk directors even offered to run the regular buses at no cost to conveners and supporters but not enough interest could be mustered. Falkirk Supporters Association is the only club taking a coach to what will likely be a very chilly Clyde side.

Instead regular travellers Elliot’s will watch the match in the bar of the Graeme Hotel on Graham’s Road.

The club is known for an almost unwavering support and travels to the vast majority of games but bus organiser Brian Stuart told TheFalkirk Herald: “It’s ridiculous – but nothing against either club. People are busy this time of year. We’re refusing to travel and staying in the bar and watching on the screens.”

Jimmy Rae, of Falkirk Supporters Association, who are travelling told The Falkirk Herald: “It’s the fact it’s the week before Christmas which is a notorious week for poor attandance, but the late kick-off has really put the ball on the slates.

“They keep going on about people not going to the football and then they hit you with two 5.30 p.m. kick offs in a row, at Christmas time.

“The club has subsidised the buses but even then, only we took their offer.”

Martin Ritchie’s complaint over the kick off times established the Bairns’ televised quota was complete – at home – as the Rovers match would be the second Alba game after the Hearts match earlier this season.

In a formal response to Mr Ritchie’s letters Mr Doncaster said: “Everyone at the SPFL cares enormously about fans – we’re all fans ourselves and have come to the SPFL through years of supporting clubs. So we understand the inconvenience that a dislocated kick off time may cause some fans. What we have to do however, is to balance such inconvenience against the overall value to the league of any deal.”