Alan Stubbs has insisted not giving Championship winners Rangers a guard of honour at Easter Road tonight wouldn’t be a show of disrespect to the Ibrox club.
The visit to the Capital will be Rangers’ first league outing since clinching the title and with it the one automatic promotion place. However, Stubbs refused to reveal whether or not his players will applaud their opponents onto the pitch before kick-off. But he insisted Ibrox boss Mark Warburton and his assistant David Weir would probably have appreciated the phonecalls of congratulations he made to them within minutes of Rangers confirming their return to the Premiership by beating Dumbarton a fortnight ago.
Last season, Hearts received guards of honour from Queen of the South, Rangers and Alloa after winning the title but were denied a fourth by Hibs before the final derby of the season in Leith. And Gers boss Warburton has admitted he’d be “touched” by such a gesture, while Ibrox midfielder Andy Halliday revealed he’d like to think Hibs would do it but said there would be no hard feelings if it didn’t happen.
However, revealing his preference for such accolades to be paid at the last league game at home, Stubbs said: “We’re not going to be getting wrapped up in all that, you’ll just have to wait and see. If you are talking about honour, I was probably the first one to ring Mark and Davie right after the Dumbarton game.
“I can even tell you the time I rang them. It was half ten at night. I actually spoke to them both personally, I didn’t want to just leave a voicemail.
“I wished them all the best, congratulated them, told them how well I thought they’d done this season. They’ve been the better team over the season so I think that’s quite honourable.
“We had it last season at some point when Hearts won it. How many are you going to have?
“If we don’t do it, it doesn’t mean we are doing anything wrong as a football club. We’ve been very respectful, very honourable in everything.
“I can stand here and say Rangers have been the best team, they deserve to go up as champions. They did very well on Sunday.
“There is no animosity between me and Rangers, my past playing for Celtic has nothing to do with it whatsoever.
“They are worthy champions, and we want to beat the champions.
“When I spoke to Mark he was thankful for the phonecall – I was probably the last person he expeced to hear from, Davie as well.
“I think they appreciated that more, 100 per cent. Listen, they are in a job and they have done a magnificent job up to now.
“So how can I not be respectful first and foremost to Mark, who has done a great job in turning Rangers around? Davie, as part of his backroom staff, has been a huge help to him, and they deserve all the plaudits they are getting right now.
“The only thing is they have just made life tougher for themselves as well.”