Politicians have today laid bare football supporters’ anger about the Dons’ fixture furore during a debate at Holyrood.
MSPs from across the political spectrum criticised the SPFL for staging Aberdeen’s League Cup semi-final match against Rangers at Hampden Park at noon on October 28 when no trains run from the Granite City to Glasgow.
Hearts play Celtic in the same stadium the same evening, meaning up to 22,00 Hearts supporters face a late-night trip back to Edinburgh.
MSPs also praised the Evening Express for starting a petition calling for the fixture date to be changed, which has been signed by almost 2,000 people.
In the Scottish Parliament this afternoon, North-east MSP Maureen Watt said: “The first train from Aberdeen going to Glasgow on that Sunday arrives at 12.14pm.
“What levers can the Scottish Government use to remind the football authorities that they have a duty towards carbon emissions and car journeys, that they have a responsibility of their fans as well as their employees and that without fans, there would be no clubs and no football TV deals, that seem to drive everything?
“Can I ask members in the chamber who have not already done so to support my motion and also to support the Evening Express campaign on this issue?”
Scottish North-east MSP Mike Rumbles asked: “What discussions has the Scottish Government had with Scot Rail and Police Scotland regarding arrangements for the fixture?”
Public Health Minister Joe Fitzpatrick replied: “While the scheduling of matches is the matter for the football authorities we recognise there is anger particularly among supporters who are travelling from Aberdeen and Edinburgh.
“The Scottish Government, Transport Scotland and ScotRail were not consulted ahead of the SPFL announcement though we have discussed this issue with all key organisations including ScotRail and Police Scotland.
“We’re actively engaging with all relevant partners to consider all key issues of concern.
“This dialogue will continue and I hope the appropriate outcome will be reached.”
Mr Rumbles added: “It should be a fantastic opportunity for families across the country to get to these showpieces of Scottish football but fans and the clubs involved say the planning has been botched.
“Families are thinking twice about going, they’re considering the logistics of getting there and home again.
“With ScotRail saying the logistical challenges shouldn’t be under estimated and although we hope people will act responsibly there is real concern about the risk of having 100,000 fans from four rival teams congregating on the same area on the same day.
“And overnight the Scottish Police Federation have described this as idiotic.”