Hibs boss demands rivals face 'consequences' amid SPFL 'sporting integrity' row

Montgomery, pictured at training today, is determined to keep pressure on with result against Motherwell.Montgomery, pictured at training today, is determined to keep pressure on with result against Motherwell.
Montgomery, pictured at training today, is determined to keep pressure on with result against Motherwell.
Dundee in firing line as Monty focuses on Fir Park clash

Hibs boss Nick Montgomery says Dundee gained an “obvious advantage” in the top-six battle by calling off their midweek game against Rangers. And he believes clubs should face “consequences” for repeated postponements undermining the “integrity of the competition.”

But the Hibees gaffer insists his team will be fully focused on getting the points needed to put Dundee under maximum pressure tomorrow afternoon, as the capital side head to Fir Park looking to put Motherwell out of the running for a place in the top half of the Scottish Premiership – and leave the Dark Blues needing to get something from both their trip to Pittodrie AND next week’s delayed meeting with Rangers.

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Montgomery, who said he backed Ibrox boss Philippe Clement and Motherwell counterpart Stuart Kettlewell’s complaints about the Dens Park fiasco, said: “It’s given them (Dundee) the obvious advantage of not having a midweek game! I think everyone else has had them - we went to Ross County in midweek; a lot of teams have had to travel and play games.

“It’s the advantage of not playing in midweek on a heavy pitch. I think it’s pretty obvious really!

“There could be a lot of different consequences, but I think rules need to be put in place at the start of the season so there’s no doubt - if this happens, these are the consequences. While there’s no consequence, it can be an advantage or disadvantage. 

“But perhaps it’s something the league can learn from so that in future there’s a real clarity around the consequences if situations like this crop up, because it’s definitely taken the integrity of the competition into question and probably created a lot of noise around a big week for a lot of clubs. You want people focusing on the positive things around the league and not on cancelled games in April.”

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Hibs believe Dundee should have had an alternative venue ready to ensure that all three teams in with a chance of making the top six played their final games at exactly the same time, Montgomery admitting: “It’s obviously a little bit disappointing that another game has been called off because it affects the last round and the integrity of the competition. I’ve seen the comments from Philippe Clement and Stuart Kettlewell.

“It’s not something I can control. But everyone knew there was a really good chance of that game being off. It’s a shame there wasn’t an alternative venue arranged.

“You would like to think you would learn from mistakes. And that’s been a mistake this week. So hopefully, moving forward, that’s something they can be better prepared for.

“You have to make a decision. And there have to be consequences if games are getting constantly called off. The consequences now are Dundee haven’t had a midweek game, they go into this weekend and still have another game before the split. I don’t know if that’s ever happened before.

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“I saw Philippe Clement’s interview and I thought the way he spoke was fantastic; I was sat there nodding my head at everything he said.  Maybe replay his interview and that would be my answer! 

“I think the most frustrating thing was that everyone knew it was going to rain in the afternoon and the pitch was already a real doubt so for the supporters and teams, a decision on an alternative venue should have been made earlier in the day and it would have been done and dusted.”

Montgomery says another distracting argument could harm the global image of Scottish football, explaining: “It’s not something I want to get drawn into - but you don’t want negative stuff about VAR, referees, games called off. It’s a quality league, it’s competitive, it’s physical. There are teams who are getting into Europe and two huge teams who get into the Champions League.

“There are a lot of positives in the league, but it’s a shame that there is a lot of negative stuff around. That’s nothing that we can control. The fact that we are having this conversation and that there are no consequences for games getting cancelled at this time of the year when we are going into the split, yeah, it’s really hard to understand how it can happen.”

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Hibs need to break a two-game losing streak in the league to give themselves the best possible chance of being on the right side of the dividing line. And give themselves at least a slender opportunity of being involved in the race for European places. That means getting the job done in Motherwell.

“Of course, people will always throw in different scenarios,” said Montgomery. “This is something we can’t control. I didn’t comment on it.

“I’ve seen a lot of noise about Hibs this, Hibs that but all we’ve concentrated on this week is a reaction to a disappointing result last weekend and knowing that we have to prepare to try to win a game of football against a good Motherwell team.”