Yesterday morning the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) told Heart of Midlothian Football Club that their final game of the season against Rangers at Tynecastle Park was to be moved from 3pm on Saturday May 2nd to 12.15pm on Sunday May 3rd so that the game could be shown live on Sky TV.
This caused some outrage amongst the club's fans who had already bought tickets thinking the match would be played on the date stated.
There was also a wider issue surrounding the fixture change. The Scottish Championship may have already been won by Hearts but the playoff places are still up for grabs.
Indeed, there is a huge benefit in finishing second in that you are guaranteed to play two games less as third v fourth will have to play each other beforehand over two legs in order to win the right to face you.
That particular race is between Rangers and Hibs and the latter were none too impressed with the SPFL enforcing the fixture change on the former.
Should the issue of who gets second spot come down to the final weekend, Rangers would be handed an advantage of already knowing what Hibs have done in their match at Falkirk the day before.
They would also know what to do themselves at Tynecastle. If they need to get a draw in order to seal second place, manager Stuart McCall can tailor his tactics accordingly and set his side up to play for one.
Hibs' argument would be that by playing the two fixtures at the same time, neither side has the advantage of knowing what needs to be done except go for a win and let whatever happens elsewhere take care of itself.
After all, playing final day fixtures at the same day on the same time has been used with regard to the top tier of Scottish football. Why apply different rules for the one below?
Hibs chief-executive, Leeann Dempster, yesterday issued this short, but to the point, statement:
"In previous seasons, the League has ensured that all of the final round fixtures are played at the same time.
“I have been in contact with the SPFL following its announcement that one final round fixture would kick off after all the other results are known.
"I have reminded them in very clear terms that - as the organiser of the competition - the responsibility for protecting its unimpeachable sporting integrity lies with them."
"At 10.43am today [April 15th], the club received notice from the SPFL that our last home game of the season v Rangers is to be moved to Sunday 3rd May at 12.30pm. This was the first notification of any change that we received.
"This has been done following selection of the game for a live TV broadcast. While we all knew that this was likely to be a strong candidate for televising and that the time might well change, we did not for one minute think that at this late stage, it would be moved to the Sunday….especially given our belief that all Championship games would require to be played at the same time.
"Previously in the season we delayed the sale of tickets for the first Rangers game as long as we could as we realised that this fixture was highly attractive to broadcasters and likely for selection. In relation to this game, we attempted to do the same but in this case, it would seem to no avail.
"On learning of the change, I immediately attempted to contact the SPFL and objected in strong terms to the proposed late change to this fixture on the grounds of it having a total disregard for the interests of supporters of both clubs and an apparent disregard for sporting integrity. I also spoke directly to Police Scotland who share our frustration and informed me that they had written with some strong reasons for objecting to the changed fixture, including duplication of work for them, re-allocation of resources, etc. but once again, to no avail.
"Being given 17 days’ notice of this change is extremely disruptive and potentially very expensive for the fans, the sponsors and indeed the club. Overseas supporters have been in touch to advise that they will lose substantial amounts on travel; others have advised of lost earnings, holiday problems, etc.
"None of this is good for any of us and on behalf of the club, I can only apologise.
"When it also became apparent to us that our fixture was the only game to be moved, we were equally alarmed as rightly or wrongly, this casts a shadow over the sporting integrity of the Championship. While it may not be enshrined in the newly merged rule book of the SPFL, it is protocol the football world over for fixtures such as the last day of the Championship to be played simultaneously. To move only one, (or even 2 or 4) out of 5 fixtures would seem to be leaving our game wide open to unsavoury accusations. I wrote, raising this point, to the SPFL, copying all clubs. Correspondence received from the SPFL asking Championship clubs to state their case for a move, does little to alleviate our concerns re the perception of this matter.
"I will be sending in a formal complaint to the SPFL in relation to this appallingly late decision. It is no wonder that clubs are finding it harder and harder to gain support from their fans when their interests can be so blatantly disregarded, especially at such short notice.
"I am advised that this complaint will likely have no impact on the original decision but nevertheless, I want our supporters to know that we have taken all and any action that we could have and I will further comment on the situation once we have been updated by the League."
Like her counterpart at Hibs, Budge also raised the issue of sporting integrity - a phrase that SPFL head Neil Doncaster had no doubt hoped never to hear of again after his failed bid (in conjunction with the Scottish Football Association's head, Stewart Regan) to carpetbag the reformed Rangers into the top tier in 2012.
Doncaster's response to the Edinburgh club chiefs duly followed and what happened next caused jaws to plummet.
For posterity, here's a screengrab of it for you to save and use for future reference in how not to conduct a public relations battle:
Does he not understand the time, money and effort put in by the clubs and police in order to organise a matchday event? Does he not understand the inconvenience it causes when numbskulls like him change the date at very short notice? Does he not understand the expense and hours of travelling put in by fans of both participating clubs to attend the game?
No. Because the man is a clueless buffoon.
It gets worse.
His claim that it is unreasonable to move all Championship fixtures to the same day as Hearts v Rangers is a hollow one. His organisation puts this into place with the top tier so he has no excuse there.
As for inviting clubs to apply to move their games to the Sunday... what's the point of a governing body being in place if it allows clubs to pick and choose their fixtures like this? Govern you fools, that's your job.
"We've had no request from Hibernian..." - probably because they were in talks with Falkirk who would be hosting their particular game. Probably because Falkirk had a charity event in memory of their former chairman Campbell Christie planned for the scheduled day of the game and arrangements for people to attend that had already been made.
You would have thought Doncaster could have picked up the phone himself to Falkirk and Hibernian but such is the man's arrogance, he probably felt it to be beneath his station to do such a thing.
The point regarding Police Scotland is interesting when comparing it to the Hearts one and Budge's own point regarding the Police. Was Doncaster implying that Budge was not being truthful with her claim? If he was, one can only imagine their next conversation.
The SPFL statement was torn apart by Tom English and Richard Gordon on BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound programme - and rightly so. As English said, you could understand the tone of it if someone in that organisation was orchestrating a hatchet job on Doncaster. But given that the likelihood was that is was he sanctioned its release, brought about the widespread disbelief that it was written in the first place.
Rangers manager, Stuart McCall was not happy either and understood the displeasure expressed by both Hearts and Hibs saying that he understood the position taken by the two and would be doing the same himself were he in their shoes.
Hours later, Falkirk's chairman, Doug Henderson, issued his own criticism of the SPFL's bungling:
“In the interest of fairness, the end of season fixtures have traditionally been played concurrently on an agreed date. You can’t have one game kicking off when all the others have finished. That, in our opinion, is not in the spirit of the game. We must uphold the integrity of our football competitions at all costs.”
“We are now convinced that a fundamental review of fixture rearranging to suit television must be organised as soon as possible. The requirements of supporters must be foremost in any decisions made. They are the lifeblood of the game.”
"It’s never easy when you’re trying to balance the needs of broadcasters, clubs, fans, sponsors but my view on this is the fans come first. They have to be considered and I'm sure that Neil will listen and come back with an appropriate and pragmatic solution.
"Sporting integrity is fundamental to any competition and I think that has to be considered in the round and obviously the clubs have made their feelings known and Neil and his colleagues will listen to what their member clubs and come back with a pragmatic proposal.
"My preference is that in a play-off situation having games finishing at the same time would be the preferred solution.
"It is not for me to stand here and criticise how another body has dealt with things. I think the clubs themselves have made their feelings known to the league. I know Neil and his colleagues will take that on board and try and do what they can to try and satisfy all the various parties."
So obviously Machiavellian this may have been, but it appeared to be the final nail in this 'Doncaster-made' farce's coffin as the SPFL performed an embarrassing U-turn and released this statement:
“Following consultation between the SPFL, member clubs and broadcast partners regarding the final round of Championship fixtures over the weekend of 2 & 3 May 2015, Sky Sports has now suggested an alternative schedule for its televised Championship match that weekend.
“As a result, we are pleased to confirm all five Championship matches that weekend will now kick off simultaneously at 12.15pm on Saturday 2 May. The Hearts v Rangers match will be televised live on Sky Sports.
“The SPFL would like to thank Sky Sports for its flexibility and understanding and we’re sure all football fans will look forward to an exciting climax to the Championship season.”
Doncaster neglected to mention any contrition for those who had to rearrange their plans to attend the game at great expense, let alone the two clubs involved who had to organise it.
Hearts and Rangers fans right now will probably be on the phone to rail and flight companies, not to mention hotels, asking if they can revert back to their original bookings, but also praying that they don't incur any more extra charges on top of the ones they already paid out for following yesterday's original fixture switch.
This will probably not register on Doncaster's radar at all.
For a man who is paid £200,000 a year to govern Scottish league football, the lack of coherent leadership on this issue was staggering.
As sports promoter Barry Hearn told him a few months ago, if he worked for him, he'd be fired.
Doncaster's time in charge of league football has been beset by incompetence and surely the member clubs of the SPFL should take matters into their own hands and remove him from his undeserved throne?
As Oliver Cromwell said when addressing the Rump Parliament in London back in 1643:
"You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately... Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"
And good riddance when that day comes.