Exclusive - Hibs raise 'sporting integrity' fears with SPFL after 'embarrassing' call-off

Dundee gain clear edge by calling off Rangers clash
Dens Park was declared unplayable this afternoon - leaving rivals furious. Dens Park was declared unplayable this afternoon - leaving rivals furious.
Dens Park was declared unplayable this afternoon - leaving rivals furious.

Hibs believe Dundee have gained a sporting advantage by postponing tonight’s Scottish Premiership game against Rangers. And they’ve voiced strong objections to the SPFL over a scenario branded “embarrassing” by the furious Ibrox outfit.

The Dens Park pitch failed a 3.30 pm pitch inspection today, creating a fifth call-off of the season at the home of the Dark Blues, who now face disciplinary action. The game has been rescheduled for next Wednesday night.

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But the postponement of that clash until AFTER the final round of pre-split fixtures has undermined the sporting integrity of the league programme, according to Easter Road insiders. The Evening News understands that they’ve made their feelings clear in robust discussions with the SPFL.

It is understood that the SPFL were presented with two alternative venues – both top-flight grounds – capable of hosting the fixture in the event of Dens Park being too waterlogged to fulfil their penultimate scheduled game before the split. With Dundee in a three-way fight for the sixth and remaining spot on the right side of the top division’s halfway cut-off, the other clubs still in with a shot of overtaking the Dark Blues – Hibs and Motherwell – were concerned that another delay would give Tony Docherty’s men an obvious edge.

Now, not only have Dundee been afforded more preparation time for Saturday’s trip to Aberdeen. But, even if they slip up at Pittodrie, they’ll host Rangers next Wednesday knowing exactly what they need to finish inside the top six.

When Hibs and Motherwell meet at Fir Park in round 33 of the Scottish Premiership on Saturday, by contrast, they’ll effectively be playing blind. Dundee’s inability to get the Dens Park pitch up to scratch, then, has coincidentally eased the pressure on them over the closing pre-split stretch. Here are the revised weekend permutations:

Hibs win at Fir Park

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They move onto 41 points. Dundee could still wrap up sixth place by beating a struggling Dons side still without a manager, taking them to an unassailable 42 points. A draw for the Dark Blues at Pittodrie would leave them needing something when Rangers come calling - eventually - next midweek.

Hibs draw with Motherwell

At 39 points, they’d be dead level with Dundee. But ahead on goal difference. They’d then need Tony Docherty’s men to lose to both Aberdeen and Rangers.

Hibs lose to Motherwell

All over for Monty’s men. Then it’s the Fir Park side who are best placed to challenge Dundee, as they’d be sitting on 39 points - but, again, with a better goal difference than the Dee.

Nick Montgomery, speaking before last night’s call-off, stressed the need for Hibs to take care of their own business without worrying about what happens elsewhere, saying: “The only thing we can do is wait and see, stay positive, hope that we’re heading into the weekend with a chance to still make the top six. Whatever happens, we’ve been focused on ourselves in training, putting together a plan to go and win against Motherwell. That’s all we can do.”