THE text message arrived just as the SatNav in my car was showing four miles to St Andrew’s. “NUFC GAME - OFF.” Just what you want on the Saturday before Christmas – a nice seven-hour round trip for absolutely nothing.

In truth, it was hardly a surprise. The state of the main roads into Birmingham was treacherous in the extreme, with heavy snow continuing to fall and the temperature hovering well below freezing.

The outside two lanes of the M6 were completely impassable, nothing was moving in the inside lane, and the police were driving along the hard shoulder to close the slip roads, all of which had become snarled up with cars and lorries sliding in the freshly-fallen snow.

Regardless of the state of the Birmingham City pitch, which by all accounts could have been made just about playable, this was not a day for hosting a football match in a city that was buckling under the strain of the elements.

Getting home wasn’t going to be easy. The police weren’t allowing anyone off the motorway until a safe route out of the city could be located and cleared. So I opted to wind down my window and have a chat with some of the drivers in the same position. It was at this stage that my general unhappiness turned into something stronger.

At this point, it’s probably best to hold my hands up and accept I was being paid for my wasted journey. Thousands of Newcastle United supporters weren’t, and I have subsequently heard quite a few horror stories about car accidents, lengthy detours and expensive overnight stays just a week before Christmas Day.

‘One of those things’, you might say. ‘You can’t do anything about the weather, and if a game can’t be played, it can’t be played’.

Fair enough. But as a number of my fellow drivers were quick to tell me, heavy overnight snowfall had already all but crippled Birmingham’s transport network by 9am on Saturday. Local television and radio stations were reporting travel chaos, and warning of further prolonged, heavy snowfall for the next three hours.

It was a worsening situation, and it was clearly not going to get any better.

So what did officials of Birmingham City do? They put an official statement on their website boasting of how well they were doing to make sure the game was going to go ahead.

Like me, thousands of supporters saw the statement and headed in the direction of St Andrew’s. Like me, thousands of supporters suffered an expensive wasted day as a result.

The days of Premier League football clubs giving any consideration to their supporters is clearly long gone, but it is still staggering that such little regard was displayed at the weekend.

At an early stage of Saturday morning, it should have been clear to all concerned that the game was in major doubt. So with around 4,000 Newcastle fans expected, why wasn’t it called off then?

Why did no-one have the foresight or boldness to make an early decision and avoid the chaos that ensued three or four hours later?

Clearly, there is a desire to ensure games go ahead whenever possible.

Doncaster officials could have postponed Friday’s planned game with Middlesbrough, aware that the temperature at kick-off was going be well below freezing, but instead allowed the game to take place.

But when conditions were as bad as Saturday’s, and the forecast for the rest of the day led to the Met Office releasing a severe weather warning for the whole of the Midlands and an emergency weather warning for an area 30-or-so miles to the south, why didn’t common sense prevail?

Chelsea officials have been criticised for calling off yesterday’s game with Manchester United more than 24 hours before kickoff, but if it avoids United fans having to experience what Newcastle supporters went through on Saturday, it has to be the right call.

If severe weather is forecast, it should be statutory for all clubs to hold a formal inspection before 9am on the morning of an afternoon game. And if a large number of supporters are going to be travelling large distances, it should be recommended that clubs err on the side of caution.