Hibernian head coach Jack Ross is “baffled” and “astonished” that their fans will not get the chance to fill half of Hampden for the Premier Sports Cup final.
The decision was part of a double blow from the Scottish Professional Football League on Monday, with Hibs handed another rearranged fixture in their already hectic December.
Hibs declared they were “incredibly frustrated” after being allocated 17,500 tickets for the circa 50,000-capacity Hampden when they take on Celtic on December 19, following “long intense discussions” with the SPFL.
The outcome left Ross “baffled” and he added: “Naturally you want as many of your own supporters in the stadium for a cup final, and also historically we have taken massive crowds to cup finals in recent times.
“The counter-argument to that is the semi-final attendance. I find that a really strange thing to take into account because the League Cup has never been one that attracted big crowds in semi-finals.
“It’s baffling that we do not get that opportunity to take that allocation and Hampden never looks like a difficult stadium to segregate.
“I find it quite astonishing but it’s about using it as a positive to galvanise us. And one thing I would say about Sunday is the 10,000 we had there made enough noise for 40,000 and we will hope that just under 20,000 people at the final will do the same.”
Ross had mentioned after Sunday’s semi-final win over Rangers that help from the SPFL for both Hibs and Celtic would be “nice” given their fixture load. Both teams have rearranged cinch Premiership fixtures in the midweek before the final.
Instead, Hibs and Celtic saw their games from the cup-final weekend rearranged for December 22 to leave both with nine fixtures during the month.
Ross, whose team take on Ross County on Wednesday in a rearranged game, said: “When I mentioned it, they just chucked in another game. I don’t know what would happen if I asked them again.
“I think it was a fairly common-sense thing to say, not just for me but Celtic as well, because I know they have got an equally busy schedule with their European involvement.
“Allied to that, (Livingston boss) David Martindale has spoken publicly about it and another manager has privately said to me about the number of games they have got. So there is a knock-on effect around the league.
“It’s surprising that there seems to be no appetite for taking on board those opinions. And it’s not just about complaining and moaning, there is scientific support to say that the number of games some of the clubs are being asked to play in such a short period of time is not great.
“Also added to that, the showcase aspect of it. It’s a national cup final which should be given the best possible chance of being a top game.”
Ross stated there were no discussions about the rescheduling of the visit of Aberdeen for December 22 and thinks approaching the league, even as a collective, would be pointless.
“I just don’t think it would make any difference,” he said. “We have peculiar governance in that respect where there are times they want to flex their muscles and be really strong and yet there are countless things that happen where there is a lack of appetite to get involved in, which puzzles me at times.
“There seems to be no appetite to take on board the opinion of people who work within the game.”
Ross also feels the fans’ circumstances have been ignored.
“Particularly the time of year for supporters, with the festive period and the expense involved in that,” he said. “Allied to the fact it’s been a challenging couple of years for a lot of people.
“With the number of games over December, it’s a lot to expect crowds to continually keep going to games with the expense. It’s something that should be given consideration.”
He added: “But it looks like we will have no leeway which means we will use all our energy to focus on being as good as we can in all the games that lie ahead.”
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