The news and the fears were confirmed on Wednesday afternoon. Four hours before kick-off, the match between Dundee and Rangers was postponed for a second time.

Philippe Clement had called for the decision to be made on Tuesday. Instead, Rangers had the expense and uncertainty of another wasted trip. They returned home with only anger rather than three points.

Here, the Rangers Review looks at the key questions surrounding a fixture that was initially called off on March 17. The clubs will try again next Wednesday evening at 8pm, with the match once again due to be screened live on Sky Sports.

Why did Don Robertson hold a second pitch inspection?

There was an air of inevitability about the whole thing. Robertson, the match referee, highlighted areas of particular concern when he took to the park at 11am and it was clear that the conditions were only going to get worse. As soon as the rain started, events were only heading one way.

The pitch was playable in the morning but the whistler pointed to the previous issues with the surface and admitted it ‘wasn’t in great condition’. Come the second inspection, it had deteriorated further and one section in the penalty box had become waterlogged despite the presence of covers. It was therefore deemed unsafe for the players and Robertson was left with no choice but to call a halt to proceedings for the second time. The wellbeing of the players was paramount for Robertson.

“You have to forget about all of that,” Robertson said when asked about outside influences and the pressure he was under making his decision. “Referees are involved in football, we know what is going on, title races, Dundee going for top six. We all want the games to go ahead, we are all coming from a point where we want the matches to go ahead but when I am out there doing a pitch inspection I am purely looking at it is it safe for the players to play? That is my primary concern and my sole concern.”

What have Rangers said about the situation?

The statement that was released in the aftermath of the decision being made certainly did not pull any punches. The SPFL are very much in the crosshairs over this situation but the condemnation of Dundee was stinging as Rangers called out their ‘negligence and unprofessionalism’. It is rare for such language to be used between member clubs, but it speaks to the anger within the Ibrox boardroom and dressing room that Rangers were so strong in their stance.

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The position of Sky Sports cannot be overlooked here and Rangers noted the quandary that the broadcaster – who saw 1.4million people tune in for the Old Firm fixture on Sunday – have been left in. Sky have had the expense of transporting their equipment and staff to Tayside on two occasions now. Interviews with Robertson and footage of him kicking a ball about a pitch that resembled a field don’t exactly represent value for money.

Rangers called the episode deeply embarrassing’ and insisted it had been ‘eminently avoidable’. Every stakeholder has been badly let down over the last couple of weeks. This is not a situation that Rangers will let slide and their supporters will expect them to keep the pressure on in the search for answers.

Do Rangers have issues with the League’s handling of events?

In short, yes. The club expect the Hampden hierarchy to take ‘proportionate and decisive action in accordance with its rules’ and they vowed to make continued representation ‘in the strongest possible manner’. Clement was open to the idea of a venue switch when he spoke at his pre-match press conference and Rangers claim a number of potential solutions put to the League were not taken up. The club say they have ‘again proposed a solution to the preparation and execution’ of the fixture and, at the time of writing, are awaiting a response.

Rangers insist that the matter has been dealt with ‘incorrectly throughout’ by Dundee and the SPFL. Relations between Ibrox and Hampden are still strained at present and this farce will do nothing to ease those tensions. Once again, it raises huge questions about the leadership of Neil Doncaster, the chief executive, who has been conspicuous by his absence. Doncaster was quoted in the press release talking up the record viewing figures for the Old Firm fixture but has not commented on a shambolic state of affairs that have damaged the reputation of Scottish football. The League is, of course, still without a title sponsor for next season.

What did the SPFL have to say?

It was Calum Beattie, the chief operating officer, who put his name to the statement that dropped at 4pm on Wednesday. He confirmed that two ‘detailed’ pitch inspections had been carried out with the agreement of both clubs and stated it was ‘extremely disappointing’ that the match had been postponed for a second time. The SPFL communicated via email their contingency plans for the fixture following the initial postponement and insist that other options that were explored were not better than their original contingency plan of rescheduling the clash for next midweek.

“This decision gives this vital fixture the very best chance of being played in front of both sets of supporters and also gives us a week to finalise further contingency planning in the event that the weather unexpectedly deteriorates in the interim,” Beattie said. “There is currently an ongoing disciplinary process regarding pitch issues at Dens Park and the latest developments will form part of those enquiries.”

If Dundee cannot guarantee that the game can go ahead next week, the League should take hold of the situation and order it to be played elsewhere. Tannadice has been put forward as an alternative by many fans but that would require the cameras and technology used for VAR to be installed and that switch appears unlikely. Ibrox is the obvious choice but Hampden and McDiarmid Park could also come into the equation. Ultimately, the League must decide rather than the clubs and clarity is a must for all concerned.

Have Dundee said anything in response?

The communication from Dens Park was short as ‘heavy rainfall this afternoon’ was blamed for the postponement. Dundee also confirmed the new date for the fixture.

A statement read: “Thank you to all of our wonderful supporters, staff and contractors who have helped us with the pitch in the last week. Unfortunately one area of the pitch was deemed unplayable due to the heavy rain this afternoon.”

This was the fifth time this term that a match has been postponed at Dens Park. Quite simply, it is a pitch that is not fit for purpose and not suitable for top flight football. On Tuesday, Dundee posted a loss of £2.9million to the end of the financial year and had staff costs of £3.5million. Many of Tony Docherty’s Premiership peers will surely be questioning what advantage Dundee have by investing in players rather than the pitch.

"I can understand people are annoyed at this and are looking at it as Dundee's fault,” Eric Drysdale, the Dundee club secretary, said. “What I would say is that from the research we have done in the last few days this year's rainfall is 35 per cent higher than the 10 year average - that shows the effects of climate change on it and it shows the work we have to do urgently on the Dens Park pitch." 

Will the fixture be played on the rescheduled date?

That is now one of the big questions. As it stands, it is impossible to say for certain. The good news is that Dundee are away from home this weekend as they play what is now their penultimate pre-split fixture against Aberdeen. That should, hopefully, give the pitch time to recover.

But the issues are longstanding ones, and they will not be solved in under a week. Given how poor the surface is, will it be able to withstand further rainfall in the coming days? The forecast does not offer much hope for optimism and Rangers now face an anxious wait to discover if it will be third time lucky for this fixture at Dens Park.

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If it falls victim to the weather once again, the drama will really step up. The SPFL confirmed last month that the first post-split date is the weekend of April 27/28. The Premiership will end on May 18/19 and the Scottish Cup final will be played the following Saturday. Time is, then, very much against the League to get all the fixtures played.

Dundee could now go into Game 33 with their top six spot secured or knowing what they need to do to achieve it. Motherwell and Hibernian are unlikely to be enamoured at that given their own ambitions of taking that final spot.

But it is the race for the title that is of paramount importance. Rangers have been denied the chance to go top of the table and could now be four points adrift by the time they face Ross County on Sunday. Given what is at stake in football and financial terms, Clement is well within his rights to be upset at a disaster that is not of Rangers’ making.

Where do the supporters stand in all of this?

Once again, they have been treated appallingly. Around 4000 fans were due to take their seats in the away end and they will have to count the cost of wasted travel money for a second time. Many punters would have had to set off before the first inspection, never mind the second one, and Rangers say they ‘sympathise fully’ with those who have been left ‘hugely inconvenienced and out of pocket’ by both postponements. They added that it was ‘entirely unacceptable and disrespectful on the part of Dundee FC to have allowed this situation to have developed again.’

Motherwell fans deserved far better at the weekend after their Dens fixture was only given the go-ahead less than two hours before kick-off. And Rangers supporters are rightly furious at how they have been treated. The league relies on the lifeblood of the game and some form of recompense should be forthcoming from Dundee or the SPFL.