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Celtic say they adhered to ‘proper process’ after Hibs’ fixture change complaint

Celtic v Rangers – Scottish Premiership – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Celtic have insisted they did everything by the book after Hibernian chief executive Leeann Dempster complained that the clubs’ New Year clash had been moved without their consent.

The Scottish Professional Football League announced earlier on Monday that Hibs’ Premiership trip to Celtic Park had been put back from Saturday, January 9 to an Monday, January 11 with a 1945 kick-off “following a club request”.

Dempster, who recently announced she was set to leave the Easter Road club after six years, took to her personal Twitter account on Monday evening to say that Hibs were “fizzing” about the situation.

She wrote: “Apologies to our supporters and our head coach.

“This was done without my knowledge – we said no to the original request from Celtic because the request didn’t work for our club.

“The SPFL appears to have agreed this without a call to the decision makers at our club. @spfl”

She added: “We are fizzing about this – @spfl know I am leaving soon (ish) but they still have my mobile number so a call should have been easy to do – or @gmathie82 (sporting director Graeme Mathie) or even to our Chairman. Not good enough.”

However, a spokesperson for Celtic told the PA news agency: “Celtic can confirm that its match against Hibernian scheduled for the New Year has been moved to Monday 11th January 2021 with a 1945 kick-off.

“The club, through the proper SPFL process, has made this request with a view to arranging a winter training camp during this particular week, something which has proven hugely beneficial to the squad in recent seasons.”

The SPFL gave Hibs one hour’s notice before announcing the fixture change but insisted rules had been followed.

The league’s director of operations, Iain Blair, said discussions had taken place between the clubs and added: “Celtic wished to move the fixture from its scheduled time, to another slot that weekend. When the two clubs could not reach agreement, I received a request from Celtic FC to move their home match against Hibernian FC to Monday January 11th.

“I took the request to the SPFL board, noting that Hibernian FC objected to the move. However, as the proposed date change fell within the same Friday – Monday fixture slot, and was made by the home club, I informed the SPFL board that my intention was to agree to the request.

“As has been the case for the past 22 years, SPFL policy, where two clubs do not agree about a fixture change and in the absence of any other relevant factor, is to favour the home club.

“Both Celtic FC and Hibernian FC were advised of the change more than an hour before the decision was made public, with no adverse comment being received from Hibernian FC ahead of publication.”