CAN you recall a time when the revelation of a set of fixtures has been greeted with so many groans?

The unveiling of the 2017 fixture card managed to anger and frustrate so many supporters – and you can wager that the coaches and players will be equally miffed.

Having heard coaches lobby for years for an end to the traditional Easter double header, described as “cruel” by Denis Betts last term, the game’s administrators have responded by doubling the dose.

That is really rubbing their noses in it.

It is made even worse for Saints given both their Easter and May bank holiday fixtures begin with high intensity, derby clashes against rivals Wigan.

And despite the unpopularity of among the fans of Thursday night fixtures, they are again a prominent feature on the schedule, with Saints having four in the regular programme.

Some fans have contacted me stating that they cannot attend stand-out home games against Leeds and Wigan, which then makes their purchase of a season ticket worthless.

Thursday nights are difficult for supporters juggling work and families. They are also tough for kids on a school night, particularly now that the officials are using the video ref for every call these days.

And as an aside it is very tough on small town centre pubs who rely on the big night's trade that a Wigan and Leeds game would bring on a regular Friday before and after.

Of course, this year is a World Cup year, and as a result there is no real wriggle-room for the planners at the back end of the season, but it is not like this news has suddenly jumped out.

Rather than cramming more into less, and flogging the players into the ground and subsequently diminishing the product for the paying spectator, surely there was scope for a different plan.

And given the precious nature of weekends between the crammed months of February and October, having a blank weekend for six teams in week two is just crazy.

We build up the season start with a fanfare for the big launch on February 9 – and then half a dozen of the top eight teams sit on their hands for the following week as the game seeks vainly to give oxygen to the doomed World Series.

Having finished in the lower half of the table, Leeds, Salford and Huddersfield will join promoted Leigh in the early rounds of the Challenge Cup.

But instead of playing their squeezed out Super League game in midweek, they get a week-two leg up on the fixture card, while Hull, Saints, Castleford, Widnes, Wakefield and Catalans sit out.

That is like almost having a reward for failure.

Surely a better system, to avoid a half-cock start, would have been to ensure all teams play in week two and make those involved in Challenge Cup ties rearrange their fixtures later on in the season.

You never know, they could even get a blank date over one of the cup rounds in May or June.

Given that it seems obvious that the Australians need placing in a half nelson to play in the World Series, is it not time to go back to a straightforward battle between the champions of both hemispheres.

The Super 8s system however we dress it up, means league 30 fixtures. That was understandable when we had 16 teams in the top division, but now it is simply unnecessary.

If we are keeping Magic, why not come up with a radical solution that makes the fixture card fair and takes out two games. To do that make the Magic fixture for double points and let it replace the home and away fixture.

For example, Saints would not go to Hull, they would not come to Langtree Park and instead they would play at Newcastle for all four points.

There are downsides to that idea, not least because it sounds like playing the Joker on It’s a Knockout.

There are certain home fixtures clubs - or in fact the game in general - would not wish to lose, but it would not be that difficult to formulate a fixture card avoiding the obvious crown jewels.

And of course there is an even easier solution, go back to everyone playing each other home and away once, ditch the 8s, and go straight to a top five play-off.