Jack Ross hits out at SPFL over 'uneven' Hibs-Celtic cup-final ticket split
Hibs manager Jack Ross has hit out at the SPFL over the ‘unfathomable’ decision to unevenly split the ticket allocation for the 2021 Premier Sports Cup final.
The Easter Road club booked their place in the Hampden Park showdown thanks to a stunning 3-1 victory over reigning Scottish champions Rangers on Sunday evening as hero Martin Boyle nabbed a hat-trick.
However, the club expressed their ‘frustration’ the following day in a statement after it was announced they’d only be allocated 17,500 tickets for the 50,000-seater stadium, with the vast majority of the remaining briefs going to opponents Celtic.
Ross, who will lead Hibs into a Hampden encounter for the sixth time in his two years in charge, understands the need to sell all tickets for the showpiece encounter, but doesn’t see why the decision had to be made immediately.
“I just can’t quite fathom it. I understand fans having bigger and smaller fan-bases and I understand there will be a ceiling on the numbers that clubs will sell,” said Ross.
“But when you have us involved in it, and our recent cup final involvement when we have sold big, big numbers, that there wouldn’t be the willingness to put that in place, I don’t quite get it. I don’t quite understand it.
“I can understand the reallocation of tickets, I can understand segregations issues, but I think Hampden is a stadium that can be segregated quite easily; we’ve seen that over the years.
“I don’t know about all other countries but it seems to be peculiar that a 50-50 split is not offered up as the first alternative, with the ability to adjust thereafter. That would be much more sensible.”
A popular argument against a 50-50 allocation for cup final tickets is that Celtic (or, indeed Rangers) take bigger crowds to semi-final matches and therefore deserve a bigger slice when it comes to dividing up briefs for the final. Ross, however, believes this is flawed reasoning.
“The counter argument that will be offered is that we only took 10,000 on Sunday. Again, historically, I’ve watched a lot of the League Cup and it’s never a competition that has generated big crowds in semi-finals, including those that feature the Old Firm,” he said.
“I watched St Mirren V Celtic and there were loads of empty seats at Hampden that day. So, the argument that should reflect on the numbers you get for the final is not valid, I don’t think.
“For us not to have the opportunity to have an equal share of the tickets for the final is ridiculous. Again, it appears there’s nothing we can do about it.
With little-to-no chance of the SPFL changing their mind, about either the tickets or the punishing fixture schedule facing both sides between now and the final, Ross insists his men will use the sense of injustice as fuel to keep them going.
“It’s hugely frustrating for us, but I keep going back to it galvanising us,” he said.
“We’ll use it to strengthen our resolve to make sure we have a really good five-week period between now and the winter break."