Hibs manager Jack Ross accuses SPFL of ignoring scientific facts around fixture congestion

Jack Ross has accused the SPFL of failing to protect the welfare of their players as he accused the league of taking an unnecessarily hardline stance when it comes to fixture scheduling.

By Craig Fowler
Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 6:45 am
Jack Ross takes training on Tuesday ahead of Hibs' trip to Ross County in the cinch Premiership. Picture: SNS
Jack Ross takes training on Tuesday ahead of Hibs' trip to Ross County in the cinch Premiership. Picture: SNS

Starting with tonight’s trip to Ross County, the Hibs manager will see his side in action nine times in the next 28 days thanks to a combination of their success in the Premier Sports Cup final, following Sunday's 3-1 win over Rangers, and a Covid-19 outbreak which led to the cancellation of two league fixtures.

Cup final opponents Celtic have a similarly tough run coming up due to their continued involvement in the Europa League, while Ross says he’s had other managers bemoaning the number of games packed into a tight December schedule before the winter break kicks in after January 3.

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Pointing to research done by football clubs and players federation FIFPro, he questioned why the governing body continued to cram so many matches into a tight window when it could be putting players at risk.

"There has been an evolution in the game and there is much more information available,” he said. “You asked those involved in the performance aspects of football clubs then they would probably put forward quite a forceful argument that there is a much higher risk of injury and serious injury during periods of high fixture congestion.

"If you look at the work FIFPro are doing, looking into the demands on players at the top level, where they end up playing all year round, then it does take its toll.

“If you look at it scientifically, there is a fairly strong argument that it is not ideal. It does seem surprising that that is discounted – not just the opinions but the facts behind it as well.

"David Martindale has already spoken publicly about Livingston’s schedule and, without breaking a confidence, I know another Premiership manager who has told me that he was quite happy to have one of our games against them rescheduled because of the number of games they’ve got.

“For me, it’s baffling. If you have all these clubs and as many managers all thinking the schedule is too busy, why would you not want to listen to them?”

Ross also accused the SPFL of picking and choosing which issues to be tough on, stating his belief that the authorities in Scottish football are often guilty of lacking consistency when it comes to decision-making.

Revealing that Hibs had no say in when their league fixture would be moved to make way for the Celtic showdown at Hampden on December 19, he said: “As far as i am led to believe, the Aberdeen fixture was just moved without discussion. We were just told it was moved so we didn’t even have the ability to argue our case with that one.

"It almost feels like, and I am not part of the discussions so I don't know, but my opinion is that there is almost a flexing of muscle and a show of strong governance over fixture scheduling. Yet, when it comes to other stuff, the other aspects of the game that require strong governance, these same people are nowhere to be seen.

"In my opinion, you can't be selective in terms of how you choose to govern the game.”

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