Hibs fans face a League Cup ticket scramble after Tynecastle was picked over Hampden to stage their semi-final with St Johnstone.
The SPFL confirmed that the last-four showdown between the two on-form teams will take place at the home of Hearts on Saturday, 30 January. The fact it will kick-off at a supporter-friendly 3pm in Edinburgh and won’t be shown live on television will guarantee high demand among a Hibs support buoyed by their team’s current run of 12 wins in their last 13 games.
Tynecastle holds just over 17,000 at full capacity, with Hibs fans likely to be housed in the Gorgie Stand, the Wheatfield Stand and the Main Stand, and the Perth side’s supporters handed the 3,500-capacity Roseburn Stand. This would mean an allocation of around 12,000 briefs for the Easter Road faithful, once hospitality and sponsorship tickets have been deducted, comfortably ensuring all of their 7500 season-ticket holders are able to get their hands on briefs. However, attendances at relevant semi-finals in the past suggest the subsequent general sale is unlikely to satisfy demand among the remainder of a Hibs support which usually turns out in sizeable numbers for big matches such as this one.
Tynecastle was sold out when the Edinburgh club defeated St Johnstone 3-1 there in a midweek League Cup semi-final in 2007, while it was the same scenario when Saints lost 4-0 to Aberdeen at the same venue two seasons ago. The semi-final between Inverness and a struggling Hearts side three seasons ago, kicking off at 3pm on a Saturday, attracted more than 20,000 to Easter Road, while more than 16,000 Hibs fans made the trek to Glasgow for a midday kick-off to last season’s Scottish Cup semi-final clash with Falkirk.
While some Hibs fans are likely to be disappointed this time round, the decision to hold the game at Tynecastle will be widely welcomed as it all but guarantees a full house in an era when empty seats are too often visible at such showpiece matches in Scotland.
Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster said: “We met with the SPFL and the other clubs at Hampden yesterday (Thursday) to discuss dates and venues. The benefits of both Hampden Park and Tynecastle Stadium were discussed, and on balance we are pleased with the decision made. I’m sure there will be a lot of anticipation for the match and we’ll announce the ticket information in due course.”
The other semi-final, between Celtic and Ross County, will take place at Hampden on Sunday, 31 January, with a 3pm kick-off.
Meanwhile, striker Dominique Malonga will miss Tuesday night’s Championship clash at home to Livingston due to international duty. The match with the Lions was originally scheduled for today, but, as per SPFL rules, Hibs were able to request that it be switched after having Liam Henderson, John McGinn and Jason Cummings called up for Scotland Under-21s’ match with Ukraine last night and Malonga included in the Congo squad for a World Cup qualifying double-header against Ethiopia.
Hibs, who have closed to within five points of Rangers at the top of the Championship, had the game hastily rescheduled for this Tuesday evening in order to maintain momentum, and they will have their young Scots trio back for the visit of Mark Burchill’s side. However, Malonga, whose side are away to Ethiopa today, will not be available as Congo host the same team on Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s unfortunate that he won’t be available but we have options to cover,” said head coach Alan Stubbs. “There is a lot of competition for places in the squad at the moment and I’m sure whoever takes the starting spot will make the most of the opportunity.”