SPFL sides set to undergo intriguing fixture kick-off trial; could Celtic one-day follow suit?

By Lewis Laird

September 12, 2022

Scottish Premiership sides Aberdeen, Dundee United, Hibernian and St Johnstone have announced they will be trialling new weekend kick-off times in October and November.

Of course, regularly weekend games in Scotland have the kick-off times of either 12 PM or 3 PM on a Saturday/Sunday.

That has become the norm in past and recent times, with supporters from across the country turning out to see their teams in action.

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On occasion, we have seen clubs and TV companies attempt to disrupt that norm. Many supporters may remember the days of Friday night football on BT Sports.

BBC Scotland has continued to show Scottish Championship action live on Friday nights. However, it hasn’t yet returned to the top flight.

During the 2021/22 campaign, Celtic participated in a unique Saturday night kick-off time of their own in the Premier Sports Cup tie against St Johnstone, which started at 5:15 PM.

And now, this season, some Scottish Premiership sides are looking to trial new approaches in pursuit of attracting greater attendances at matches.

Earlier today, Hibernian announced the return of Friday night football, confirming that their fixture against St Johnstone next month would now take place on the 21st of October.

Fellow Scottish Premiership sides Aberdeen and Dundee United also announced a change in kick-off time for two of their clashes set to take place in October and November.

Both games being played at Tannadice and Pittodrie will now start at the slightly more unusual time of 6 PM, in an attempt to attract more fans on a Saturday night.

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In a statement released on the Aberdeen website, the Dons commercial director, Rob Wicks, spoke out and explained the idea behind the plans.

He said [Aberdeen FC]: “We have stated previously that we would like to trial new kick-off times to help boost attendances, and over the past few months, we have been working alongside fellow SPFL clubs to make this happen.

“We are particularly excited to have the opportunity to try this kick-off time for a home match as we look to improve the atmosphere and increase the opportunity for our wider supporter base, including families, many of whom struggle to make a 3 pm kick-off on a Saturday, to come along and enjoy an exciting derby fixture.

“Feedback from fans will be welcomed, and the Club will use this data to inform any future changes.”

Could we see Celtic attempt to follow suit and introduce similar trials one day? Or do other ticketing issues need to be resolved first?

This test being conducted by four Scottish Premiership clubs is certainly an intriguing one, and it will be very interesting to see how much of a benefit it can have.

Whilst attracting crowds isn’t an issue for the majority of Hoops games, there are occasions where we see empty seats in domestic home games.

With fixtures against Aberdeen, Hearts and Rangers at home to kick off the 2022/23 campaign, that doesn’t appear to have been much of a problem. However, come the winter months, that may change.

Supporters have called for changes to be made, including the introduction of a ticket exchange service should a season ticket holder not be able to make an individual fixture.

So, whilst it would also be interesting to see Celtic involved in these differing kick-off times, there are other issues that the club should look to target first.

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Previously, sections of the Celtic support have been in favour of later kick-off times, which would provide fans with Saturday night entertainment.

The world of football is ever involving, and that includes in Scotland. So, it will be fascinating to see if these changes stick around in the long term and if they are one day introduced into the Celtic fixture list.

It is great to see clubs in this country taking new steps to try and improve the game for the better, and hopefully, these trials prove to be a success.

In other news, Former Celtic hero Tom Rogic finds new club after completing English Championship move.