Weather claims entire SPL programme


Soccer:All six Scottish Premier League matches scheduled for this Saturday have been postponed due to adverse weather, the Scottish Premier League have announced.

Aberdeen were due to host Celtic at noon on Saturday, with Hibernian v St Mirren, Inverness v Dundee United, Motherwell v Kilmarnock, Rangers v Hearts and St Johnstone v Hamilton the remaining fixtures.

An SPL statement read: "In light of the severe weather conditions across Scotland, which are forecast to continue for some time, all Clydesdale Bank Premier League games have been postponed this Saturday, December 4th.

"It is hoped that this early notice of postponement, whilst disappointing, will allow everyone to plan accordingly. New dates for the fixtures will be announced in due course."

Last weekend's referees' strike meant four SPL matches were completed with foreign officials on Saturday, with two more postponed on Sunday due to adverse weather.

Snow blizzards have continued into this week, with a severe weather warning across much of the country.

And with the inclement weather showing no sign of abating - forecasters in fact expect temperatures to plummet further - the SPL have taken the decision to postpone all fixtures with more than 48 hours' notice.

Undersoil heating meant many of the playing surfaces could have been playable on Saturday, but the health and safety of supporters was behind the decision.

The SPL postponements follow the earlier postponement of the First Division clash between Dunfermline and Partick Thistle and the Third Division meeting between Berwick Rangers and East Stirling.

Further fixtures are certain to follow, with the SFL programme poised to be decimated once more.

The early decision will come as a welcome relief to many club officials who have been battling adverse weather all week.

First-team squads across the country have been unable to train together this week, while Hamilton's Andy Graham went to extreme lengths to beat the weather conditions today - by hitch-hiking to training.

St Johnstone today trained in four separate locations once again and were pessimistic over the prospects of their match with Hamilton taking place as scheduled at McDiarmid Park.

Manager Derek McInnes arranged for his Saints squad to train in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Stirling, but the match with Accies has now been postponed.

McInnes said on the club's official website, "I think it's sensible in the circumstances to have made this decision so early.

"We shouldn't be asking fans to travel in these conditions and from a playing point of view it allows me to make plans for the rest of the week with regards to keeping the players training at various locations."

Hearts manager Jim Jefferies had called for an early decision to be made, despite admitting he would find a second successive postponement frustrating following last week's match at Motherwell being called off.

Hearts training was cancelled on Monday and yesterday and less than half of the first team attended training today.

Speaking before the SPL's announcement, Jefferies told Hearts News: "We have to think about the safety of the people trying to get to the game.

"The fans' safety is the priority and while pitches might be playable because of the undersoil heating, we have to be wary of asking them to travel in dangerous, freezing conditions."