Dundee United’s clash with Crusaders kicks off at 1pm. Here’s why

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Dundee United have an early start against Crusaders on Saturday because of the visitors having difficulty getting a flight back after the game.

The Tangerines host the Northern Irish side in the Irn Bru Cup at 1pm, two hours earlier than the usual 3pm kick-off.

There had been speculation that the early start was due to the game being screened live on TV but the Tele can reveal that Crusaders would not have been able to fly home on the day if it was a 3pm kick-off.

The part-timers are planning to travel to and from the game on the day to cut down on hotel costs but Dundee Airport closes at 4pm on Saturday so they say they were unable to charter direct flights to and from the City of Discovery.

However, the Tele understands that Dundee Airport could have opened at the weekend for a chartered flight, but no one from Crusaders had contacted them to discuss this.

Instead, the 42-strong party are travelling on a scheduled flight from Belfast to Edinburgh Airport at 9am, returning in the evening from Glasgow Airport, where they have to be checked in by 6.30pm.

Crusaders were given dispensation from tournament chiefs to have the game played early.

Norman Coleman, the football club’s general manager, claimed: “We didn’t want to play the game early but Dundee Airport closes at 4pm on a Saturday and there was no other way of getting back after the game.

“We investigated chartering a flight but it couldn’t be done so we got permission to have an earlier kick-off.”

Norman added that even if there had been an opportunity to charter a flight to and from Dundee Airport, the overall bill of £15,000 would have dwarfed the £5,000 his club are spending on scheduled flights.

He dismissed the suggestion that Crusaders could have negotiated a lower price with Dundee Airport.