Hibs hope SPFL will look at League Cup subs request

Leeann Dempster was in good spirits ahead of Hibs' AGM on Tuesday night. Pic: Scott Louden

Leeann Dempster was in good spirits ahead of Hibs' AGM on Tuesday night. Pic: Scott Louden

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Hibs are hopeful that the SPFL will embrace their request for extra substitutes to be allowed during the July group stages of the new-look League Cup.

Head coach Alan Stubbs told the Evening News last Wednesday that he was concerned about the prospect of asking players to play competitive matches in mid-July, a time when they would usually be getting up to speed in pre-season friendlies.

Chief executive Leeann Dempster expanded on this point at Tuesday night’s annual general meeting when asked about the club’s thoughts on the League Cup revamp.

She said: “George Craig [head of football operations] would want me to talk about the players and being able to use more substitutes because they’re going to be forced back earlier. You only have three substitutes. As you go through your pre-season you pitch games at different times, with different levels of intensity.

“We never really have a full-on competitive game at that time and the reason for that is the players can’t take that level of competition that early in their programme. Because we only have three substitutes, eight players will have to play for 90 minutes.

“For their development, at that time, it could be a problem in our opinion, so there could be implications that maybe haven’t been thought about. We’d fed that back to the SPFL. Maybe there could be a change to allow more substitutes. I don’t know if that would be allowed but we’ve asked.”

While the SPFL’s new plans were generally met with approval, there was some dissent, notably from Hearts and Motherwell, about the way the announcement was handled a week past Monday. Dempster agreed there should have been more communication with the clubs, but felt the proposals, on the whole, held plenty merit.

“I’m the first to sometimes be vocal when things aren’t going right and as everyone knows we’ve had our run-ins with the SPFL,” she said. “but I think they deserve credit for implementing some things we’ve asked for. Where they could do better is that we found out on the same day as supporters. It’s a new style of competition and they deserve some credit for delivering some of what we’ve asked for.”

Talk of league reconstruction, in order to potentially create a bigger top division has resurfaced of late, butDempster isn’t expecting any changes on that front any time soon.

“I read about a 14-team league last week and that was new to me,” she added. “We won’t rely on anyone to get promoted other than us. I think we’re genuinely miles off a new league set-up at the minute and I don’t see that changing.”