HIBS head coach Alan Stubbs has called for a re-think over the play-offs schedule with his side faced with the possibility of having a Scottish Cup final sandwiched between their last push for promotion.
The Easter Road outfit face Rangers at Hampden on May 21 but, should they reach the final of the play-offs – in which they’d play the Premiership’s second-bottom team – they’d be expected to play the first leg on Tuesday, May 17 and the second on Wednesday, May 25.
The scenario of a Championship side being involved in such a situation was probably never envisaged when the play-offs were introduced three years ago but now, Stubbs believes, it’s something that should be looked at again.
Agreeing the system has been designed to favour the Premiership team – although Hibs were relegated the season it was introduced – Stubbs feels supporters enjoy the excitement they bring even if it means a team finishing many points behind another still has a chance of promotion.
He said: “The team in fourth and third will probably think the play-offs are a good thing. The team in second? You know that at the start of the season, the play-offs are in place, so there’s no point in moaning about it at the end of the season. You know how it’s going to be from the get-go. I think from the fans’ point of view, they’ve actually quite liked the excitement of the play-offs. I think everybody quite likes them. I quite like them as well.”
However, Stubbs believes the powers that be must come up with a “plan B” to cope with the situation in which Hibs could potentially find themselves. He said: “If a Championship team is in the later stages of the play-offs, then to stick a cup final in the middle of it, that is a discussion to be had. Maybe look at changing the play-off dates, having a plan B if a Championship team gets to the play-off final and the cup final so you don’t sandwich this big cup final in between two other games. If a team is involved in a cup final and is involved in the final of the play-offs, something should maybe change.”
Stubbs admitted not having the luxury of a free week ahead of the cup final as Rangers will have wouldn’t be ideal, but insisted that if Hibs got to that stage it could be an unbelieveable week for the club although he accepted some might say it could also turn out to be a really bad week.
Hibs host Queen of the South in their final regular season game tomorrow, hoping to pip Falkirk – level on points but three goals better off in goal difference – to second spot.
As for the possibility of Hibs finishing third having been second last season, Stubbs said: “If you look at what we’ve got, we will finish on the same points total – potentially – as we did last year. And last year we were a considerable amount ahead of the teams in third and fourth. Was that us doing well or other teams not doing so well, in terms of the gap? You don’t know.
“But I don’t look at whether we finished second, third or fourth as a success or failure – because second, third and fourth basically gets you the same thing. All one does is get you a little bit more rest.”