Hibs defender Paul Hanlon in Scottish Cup plea to put fans before venue

Hibs stalwart Paul Hanlon believes every effort should be made to find a way to allow fans into the Scottish Cup final, even if that means moving the showpiece event away from the national stadium.

Monday, 3rd May 2021, 7:00 am
Hibs' Paul Hanlon (left) and David Gray celebrate with the fans after winning the 2016 Scottish Cup final. Photo Ross Parker/SNS Group

Following a closed-doors season, during which fans have been shut out of grounds due to Covid restrictions, around 12,000 supporters - 25% of the capacity - will be permitted into Hampden to watch Scotland's first match at the European Championships as rules are relaxed.

That match will be played just three weeks after the May 22 final, prompting hopes that a limited crowd could be granted access for the cup final, but with the ground coming under UEFA’s control eight days earlier, it is understood that option was ruled out as Euro 2020 preparations will be well underway by then.

The Scottish FA has, apparently, made enquiries as to the availability of both Celtic Park and Tynecastle but were rebuffed due to improvement works at both venues but Hanlon, who will lead Hibs into their fourth successive cup semi-final, against Dundee United on Saturday, hopes they will continue to explore alternatives.

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“I know we are not through to that stage yet but everybody is desperate to get fans back in the stadium and if a decision was made and the final was hosted at a venue where fans were able to get in then that would be great but if not then we just have to concentrate on doing our job.

“For now, we are just focusing on getting there. But I think everyone is desperate to get fans back. It has been a strange year and it hasn't been the same without them, especially in the big games, so if we can’t get them into Hampden then maybe it would be better to move the game and get some fans in.

“It would be good to have the cup final at Hampden but I think that is what all the players would prefer and it would be a great reward for the fans who have paid their money but not been able to get into grounds to see games this season.

“I think, on this occasion, that would be more important than where the game is played.”

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