Hearts have expressed their disappointment at being handed three away matches on the Ladbrokes Premiership’s post-split fixture list.
The Tynecastle side begin their top-six programme at Ibrox against Rangers on Sunday, April 22, in a 12.30pm kick-off in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Having already visited the Glasgow venue twice this season, it ensures Craig Levein’s side will end the campaign with 18 home matches and 20 away. As well as Rangers, they also face trips to Aberdeen and Kilmarnock, plus home games against Celtic and Hibs.
The season’s final Edinburgh derby will be a midweek fixture. Hibs will head across to Gorgie for a 7.45pm kick-off on Wednesday, May 9. BT Sport will broadcast the game live.
In a statement posted posted on the club website, Hearts attempted to explain to supporters why they will be left one home fixture short of the expected 19-game total this season.
“Following on from today’s post-split fixture announcement, the club would like to explain why Hearts has been allocated three away fixtures,” the statement read.
“In an ideal world, each team would complete 19 home and 19 away league fixtures per season. Due to the structure of the league, however, this is not always possible. Depending upon which teams are in the top and bottom sections of the split, the situation can arise which causes an imbalance.
“In order to make the best of this less than perfect situation, some broad guidelines are followed in setting post-split fixtures. In simple terms, where an imbalance is inevitable, ‘mid-table’ teams (clubs in positions 5,6,7 and 8) are those that potentially lose out by having an uneven split of home and away games across the full season (i.e. 18 home/20 away).
“This recognises that the top four teams are potentially fighting for top spot or to secure a place in Europe, and the bottom four teams may well be fighting to avoid relegation/play-offs. While unacceptable, it is felt to be the ‘least unacceptable’ option.
“Hearts currently occupy sixth place in the Ladbrokes Premiership, behind Kilmarnock in fifth. It is the club’s understanding that Kilmarnock was disadvantaged in the post-split fixtures during the 2014/15 season.
“Again, in an effort to be as fair as possible to all clubs, previous imbalances are taken into account when determining the fixtures. Hearts are, therefore, unfortunately in the position of having to play three of the remaining five matches away from home.
“Whilst the club is disappointed about this situation, it is a consequence of the inherently imbalanced system that the SPFL clubs have elected to operate.”
READ MORE: SPFL reveal post-split Premiership fixtures