Hibs boss Jack Ross makes Scottish Cup final fans plea - 'We seem to have taken our foot off the accelerator'
Hibs boss Jack Ross says he has been baffled by the ongoing reluctance to open stadium turnstiles to fans and is surprised that there’s not been more lobbying to allow reduced capacity crowds to see out the season.
While almost 1000 snooker spectators squeezed into an indoor venue – with no social distancing – for the recent World Championship final, Hibs Dundee United, St Johnstone and St Mirren will echo around an empty Hampden this weekend as they contest their Scottish Cup semi-finals.
There is nothing Ross can do to change that, but he believes options should be explored to ensure supporters are admitted to the May 22 final.
“I find it a little surprising we seem to have taken our foot off the accelerator or stopped lobbying for supporters in stadiums,” said Ross.
“I know people will point to the commute, but when you open shopping centres people travel to those so I don’t understand.
“It’s huge in people’s lives and we don’t just want football fans back to pay bills, or to make a noise. We want them in stadiums because it’s a huge part of their mental health.
“I do think we should be doing more to address that, particularly when you look at a snooker final being played in front of nigh-on 1000 people indoors. I struggle with that. I don’t get the logic. I am sure someone more knowledgeable regarding science will tell me why that is the case. But it is slightly baffling for me.
“I think with the strides we are making, with the vaccination programme etc, I do think it is an opportunity to progress it. Particularly when you look at the fact there will soon be thousands of fans inside stadiums at the Euros.
“It’s almost like we have accepted it for this season. We’ve almost rolled over and said it’s not going to happen, let’s worry about next season. It’s a shame, because there’s still some big games over the next couple of weeks.”
With Hampden handed to UEFA next week so it is ready for next month’s Euros, the Scottish FA can’t accommodate spectators there, but it is understood that enquiries have been made regarding switching the final to another neutral ground capable of facilitating a limited number of fans. Celtic Park and Tynecastle have been ruled out due to scheduled pitch and stadia works, though.
Ross is still hoping a solution can be found.
“If we ever got to the point where we were asked our opinion I would probably leave it up to my players to decide.
“We have spoken about the tradition of the Scottish Cup and if you dream about lifting it then it is in the confines of the national stadium but supporters have been such a big miss.
“If it was me, I would rather play it somewhere in front of fans. It is hard to fully articulate how much they have been missed. I don’t think we have become any more accustomed to it. I think it has made us yearn to have them back.
“Equally, for those fans who have been denied the opportunity, the thought of getting some of them in for the final would be a huge reward and it would be great to get them to be involved.”