Hearts vow to keep pushing for semi-final rethink

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Hearts are refusing to give up the fight to have their Betfred Cup semi-final against Celtic rescheduled.

Tynecastle officials still harbour a slim hope that they can persuade the Scottish Professional Football League to act on the matter.

Hearts chairwoman Ann Budge

Hearts chairwoman Ann Budge

A 7.45pm kick-off at Hampden Park on Sunday, October 28, was arranged by the SPFL, who organise the Betfred Cup. That left Hearts outraged as they learned they would play in the second of two semi-finals being staged at Hampden on the same day.

Aberdeen are similarly smarting from their noon kick-off time against Rangers, with both the Edinburgh club and their north-east counterparts angry at the disregard for their supporters.

Hearts players want the SPFL to have a rethink, whilst owner Ann Budge will continue petitioning the league to reorganise the semi-finals to times more suitable to families and children. “From the football side of things, it could be a good idea that both semi-finals are on one day. It can be a big spectacle and a big day out for everybody,” said Steven Naismith, the on-loan Hearts forward.

“However, for fans and everybody else, it’s not going to be ideal to be honest. That’s the nature of it. I think there have probably been mistakes made in the build-up to it from the powers that be. Hopefully they learn from them and come to the best solution for everyone.”

Naismith is unsure if his own children will be able to attend the Hearts-Celtic semi. “It’s too far away to decide that. I’ll see how good they’ve been,” he joked.

“In general, you can understand games being at night, but if it’s a spectacle on a weekend with everything building up to it so that everybody can enjoy it - that’s not going to happen as it is at the moment. Hopefully they’re still looking at it. There is nothing wrong with making a mistake. If it gets the right outcome for everybody, then that’s fair enough. You need to be big enough to admit ‘we can change it’ and move on. Hopefully common sense prevails.”

Budge revealed she will not give up pressing the SPFL to change their stance and swap the Hearts match to a different date. “We’ve been back and forth with suggestions but, in terms of the fixtures, everything we came up with was met with ‘that can’t be done because...’

“I know how hugely complex this all is but I think we almost have to forget some of the constraints and think out of the box. I will continue to press for an alternative. I will keep pushing.

Meanwhile, Hearts have sent two reserve players on loan to gain more first-team experience. Defender Chris Hamilton has joined Berwick Rangers and goalkeeper Kevin Silva has gone to Raith Rovers. Both loans run until January 14.