YOU would have an easier job shoehorning all of the Rangers fans who would like to give their erstwhile owner Craig Whyte a doing into a telephone box than you would squeezing the Ibrox club’s fixtures into their packed calendar.

Europa League games, Ladbrokes Premiership matches and Betfred Cup and William Hill Scottish Cup ties all have to be squeezed into the months between July and May. Lob a few international breaks into the mix and there isn’t an awful lot of wiggle room. Postponements and replays can be problematic to say the very least.

The immediate reaction when the league meeting between Rangers and Livingston in Govan on Saturday afternoon was called off by referee Euan Anderson due to a waterlogged pitch was “when on earth are they going to play that?”.

Gary Holt, the Livingston manager, wasn’t best pleased when he was informed by the SPFL that the encounter had been rearranged for 3pm on Sunday. “I’m not happy about it,” he said. “It was too quick a fix and not nearly enough thought went into arriving at it.”

But what exactly was the alternative? It was the sensible solution, possibly the only solution.

David Martindale, the West Lothian club’s assistant, had suggested Monday night. That, though, would have eaten into the time that Steven Gerrard and his players had to prepare for their Europa League last 32 showdown with Braga in Glasgow on Thursday evening. It is important for Scottish football as a whole, not just Rangers, that they acquit themselves well.

There was certainly no guarantee the SPFL would be able to switch the game to a free midweek before the top six split. If Rangers overcome their Portuguese rivals in their forthcoming double header another two of those will be gobbled up. And there is already that outstanding St Johnstone game to be rearranged as things stand. That is a headache enough as it is.

The Ibrox club going out of Europe will solve a lot. Scotland failing to overcome Israel in the Euro 2020 play-off semi-final at the end of the March, and therefore missing out on the final, may help as well. But neither of those outcomes is exactly desirable for our national game.

A few officials in the SPFL offices on the sixth floor of Hampden would have breathed a huge sigh of relief when Storm Dennis relented enough for the Rangers match against Livingston to go ahead 24 hours after it was originally scheduled to be played. It is easy to sympathise with their plight.

Since the Premiership kicked off way back at the beginning of August Rangers have, outwith the international and January breaks, been involved in midweek matches on no fewer than 18 occasions.

The only time they weren’t was in the week before Christmas – when they played against Hibernian in front of the BT Sport television cameras at Easter Road on the Friday night. There is just no room for Iain Blair, the unfortunate soul who oversees the fixture list, to manoeuvre.

The SPFL clubs would be well advised to seriously consider scrapping the January break in order to avoid such issues in future.

The break’s reintroduction after a 10 year absence was widely welcomed back in 2017. It allows players to recuperate after the rigours of the previous six months and recover from any niggling injuries they may have been carrying. Clubs like Aberdeen, Celtic, Hibs and Rangers take advantage by going on warm weather training camps.

Neil Lennon’s men have certainly benefitted from it once again. They have won all nine of their games since the restart, scoring 29 goals and conceding just four in the process. The lethargy which crept into their play in December, and contributed hugely to their defeat at home by their city rivals, has been nowhere to be seen.

The treble treble winners were in danger of being overtaken by their nearest challengers when play resumed last month, but have since pulled 10 points clear and look certainties to win their ninth consecutive Scottish title this term.

Most top European football nations, including England, France, Italy, Germany and Spain, have some sort of respite from league action during the course of a long hard campaign. Jurgen Klopp, who didn’t attend Liverpool’s FA Cup replay against Shrewsbury earlier this month, is clearly a fan.

But it looks, given the potential problems it can create, to be a luxury the top flight in Scotland can ill-afford.

What is going to happen if Hearts and Rangers draw their Scottish Cup quarter-final at Tynecastle at the end of the month? It doesn’t bear thinking about. No wonder the SFA are examining doing away with replays.

The January break also saw Celtic play nine games and Rangers eight games in three competitions in December. That was absurd.

The demands on those clubs to satisfy all of their fixtures reduced the amount of coaching time they get with their manager. Training was spent recovering from matches or preparing to face specific opponents, not improving skills.

The SPFL avoided an awful lot of worry and inconvenience when Rangers took on Livingston on a sodden and churned-up pitch Ibrox yesterday. They might not be so fortunate going forward.