It was a closely-fought contest but BT Murrayfield eventually lost out in its bid to become the new home of Scottish football. Now, three weeks later, rugby finds itself in the intriguing position of being able to potentially rescue the round-ball game from the almighty mess created by the Betfred Cup semi-final scheduling. The question is: can and will Scottish Rugby help?
BT Murrayfield is a fine stadium – the biggest in Scotland with its 67,000-plus capacity. But the proximity of the semi-finals to the national rugby side’s autumn Test series could be a little too close for comfort for the SRU. There is also concern that time is running out to put in place all the necessary groundwork to host one of the last-four ties.
Issues such as ticketing, stewarding and catering will all have to be addressed if the match is to go ahead in Edinburgh later this month.
The Scottish Professional Football League contacted Murrayfield yesterday to inquire about the possibility of moving one of the semis to the rugby ground. Hearts v Celtic would be the obvious contender, with Aberdeen v Rangers remaining at Hampden.
Scottish Rugby is more than amenable to staging football – “open for business” has almost become the catchphrase of the SRU’s chief operating officer Dominic McKay – and both Hearts and Celtic have successfully staged matches at the Roseburn ground.
But, with Scotland due to host Fiji on November 10, just 13 days after the semi-finals, there are concerns about the timescale involved.
The Evening News understands that Scottish Rugby has gone back to the SPFL with a list of questions. Neil Doncaster and Co better hope they can come up with the right answers otherwise they could find themselves exposed to more public ridicule.
Hearts and Aberdeen have already made their feelings known about the original plan to have both semi-finals played at Hampden on October 28.
Utilising Murrayfield is the obvious solution. The rugby ground lost out to Hampden last month when the Scottish FA board decided football would be better served by keeping its big games in Glasgow at the sport’s traditional home.
There is a large dollop of irony around the fact that the home of rugby in Edinburgh now offers football a chance to save face.