The Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) has brushed off calls for a probe into the circumstances surrounding the ‘uncertainty’ ahead of the fixture between Hearts and Partick Thistle this weekend.
Contractors worked through the night on the new Tynecastle Park main stand in the lead-up to the fixture to ensure the match went ahead as scheduled, with the game getting the green light late on Saturday evening.
Visitors Partick had already expressed their displeasure that the fixture was given the go-ahead ‘so late in the day’, and said they would be contacting the SPFL over an ‘extensive review’ into the situation.
The SPFL issued a statement on Monday afternoon insisting that ‘signs in the run-up to yesterday’s games, as well as the very regular updates we received, all indicated that the match would be able to proceed as scheduled.’
But Partick claimed that the uncertainty had been ‘unfair’ on players, staff and supporters.
The statement said that while the club was happy the fixture had gone ahead, they remained ‘deeply unhappy that the decision was left so late in the day,’ and branded it ‘unacceptable’ that there was ‘uncertainty about whether a top flight game would go ahead less than 18 hours before kick-off.’
The Thistle statement continued: “We will be asking [the SPFL] why it was allowed to continue to such a late stage, damaging Scottish football at a time when we are all working hard to attract new fans.”
Jags boss Alan Archibald backed the statement, adding: “It wouldn’t have happened if Rangers were coming, would it?
“Nothing against Hearts, they were desperate to get the game on as well, so were we. The league should have taken a stance on it, made a decision one way or another, gave them a cut-off point and rescheduled it for Wednesday.”
But Hearts owner Ann Budge hit back at the Maryhill side’s comments, telling Sky Sports that it had been the ‘most stressful week of my life’, adding: “I felt I had a duty to really push it to the wire to try and get this game on.
“Despite what you may have read in the press or wherever, I was in constant touch with Partick Thistle, I have been in daily touch with the SPFL, everyone has known what’s been going on. I’ve been keeping them informed.
“The easy option for me would have been to say on Monday or Wednesday, ‘this is too difficult let’s just postpone the game’. Nobody would have wanted that, Partick Thistle didn’t want that.”
Responding to the calls for a review into the situation, a spokesman for the SPFL said: “It is our policy to ensure that we give every possible opportunity for matches to proceed at their scheduled time.
“That applies in cases of inclement weather, fogbound pitches or, in this situation, to enable building works to be completed.
“We congratulate Hearts on pulling out all the stops to have the stadium ready for yesterday’s game.
“We note Partick Thistle’s calls for a review into the events surrounding this game and will be in contact with them in due course to discuss their views.”
A late goal from Kris Doolan ensured a share of the spoils in the first match in front of the new £14 million main stand, after Esmael Goncalves had given the home side the lead on 54 minutes.