JUST to be clear at the outset, the prospect of an unusual 6.15pm kick-off for Celtic’s visit to Motherwell on Wednesday night was just fine and dandy by me. For journalists, midweek cup games – or more specifically, the threat of extra time and penalties – can be a fraught affair.

With deadlines looming and managers and players frequently letting you know your place by dilly-dallying before coming in to speak, the media room on these nights can often be filled with journos running around with their hair on fire (and no, that doesn’t make a change from their pants, all you smart alecs out there).

So, the following criticism of the decision to move the game to a Wednesday teatime does not come from any vested interest, but rather from a concern for all of those fans who were forced to miss the match due to work commitments, for example.

Let’s say you work in Glasgow, as a great many people from Lanarkshire do. And contrary to popular belief, where a large number of Celtic fans will also live and work. Even if you finished work at 5pm, you would have a rush on to get yourself fed, watered and changed before making it to Fir Park in time for kick-off.

Premier Sports however, the sponsors of the competition and the broadcaster showing the match, had disregarded such trifling concerns, insisting upon the staggering of both the Celtic and Rangers quarter-final ties so they could show both on the same channel. We’ll get to them in a minute.

Even if you did manage to make it to the stadium, your efforts were rewarded by the clubs agreeing to stiff you for 22 quid for an adult ticket.

This is a horse I have beaten so much I’m half expecting a citation from the Jockey Club, but the proportion of income clubs take in at the gate from paying supporters in Scotland is higher than anywhere else in Europe. And yet, it seems it is always the punter who shells out their money to actually attend matches who has to compromise. Who is inconvenienced. Who is fleeced. Even by their own clubs.

On this occasion though, it was Premier Sports who were the real villains of the piece, shunting around what were massive games so that the armchair supporter could watch them back-to-back from the comfort of their living rooms.

There does of course have to be a sense of realism applied here. If you want the money that comes from broadcasting agreements – and the clubs most certainly do – then compromise on things like kick-off times has to be expected, and grudgingly accepted. If you dance with the devil, and all that.

But surely a 6.15pm kick-off time on a work day is a concession too far? Judging by the empty spaces in the home end on Wednesday night, the fans certainly thought so.

But wait, Premier Sports might say, the attendance at the Motherwell game against Rangers at the weekend was 8,498, while the attendance on Wednesday night was 8,370. Hardly a cataclysmic drop-off there. Well, yes, but the game against Rangers was a midday kick-off on a Sunday, a concession on that occasion to Sky Sports.

The SPFL and the clubs (for they are one and the same) decided some time ago that the loss of however many paying punters at the turnstiles was offset and more by their share of the broadcast revenue.

Is it too much to ask though for the league or the clubs to show a little backbone on behalf of their core support, and at least push back a little when it comes to broadcasters demanding such inconvenient kick-off times? Probably, sadly.

It is also wildly idealistic to say that the broadcasters themselves should give a little consideration to paying supporters, even if more bums on seats at the stadium always makes for a greater spectacle on the screen.

For Viaplay though, the company who have secured a takeover of Premier Sports and whose name will adorn the ribbons on the League Cup trophy this year (the competition will be renamed the Viaplay Cup at the semi-final stage), perhaps they could get an early win and earn a little goodwill from Scottish fans by ditching any plans for 6.15pm kick-offs in future.

The residual reputation of Premier Sports is that it is an Old Firm focused channel whose interest is only in milking the large stay-at-home supports of those two clubs for all they are worth. Even if that might be a smidgeon unfair, given they also showed the Kilmarnock vs Dundee United quarter-final this week too.

Justified or not, it is a reputation that also sticks to Sky Sports, while it is one that BT Sport escaped due to their all-encompassing approach to the Scottish game.

How do Viaplay want to be viewed by the Scottish footballing public as they announce their arrival on the scene? Do they care? Maybe not.

But it would be nice if, for once, the fans rolling up to the gate and handing over their hard-earned felt that somebody cared about them.