Jack Ross reveals his one wish for Hearts v Hibs Scottish Cup semi-final
The Easter Road side were due to take on their city rivals on 11 April, with Aberdeen facing Celtic in the other last-four meeting, but the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shutdown of Scottish football put the fixtures on hold.
SFA president and former Hibs chairman Rod Petrie suggested in May that Scottish football’s governing body was prepared to delay the two ties until 2021 in order to play them in front of supporters, but the association's chief executive Ian Maxwell hinted the matches may have to be played before the end of the current calendar year, even if that meant going ahead without fans at Hampden.
Murrayfield a possible venue
BT Murrayfield, home of the Scotland national rugby team, was suggested as potential venue to help supporters socially distance.
Asked by Sky Sports when he would like the tie to take place, Ross joked: “Preferably before next season’s competition is due to start, that would be helpful.
“I think selfishly - and I think all the managers involved and the clubs involved too – would like it to be played when we know supporters can return to the stadium, because they’re showcase events.
“There’s a lot at stake; obviously the fact it was a derby for us adds to that.
“Both semi-finals are terrific fixtures and would benefit from being played in front of a crowd – of course there’s a lot of buts and maybes involved in that – but I would anticipate it happening before the end of the calendar year.”
Hibs’ Premiership campaign gets under way on 1 August with a home match against Kilmarnock, but with Hearts' season not beginning until October and an international break scheduled for November, opportunities to play the match are at a premium.
Ross: ‘Only two fixtures to fit in’
However Ross – who has also cast doubt on striker Florian Kamberi's long-term future at the club – is keen for the games to be played before the new year.
“The truth is, it’s only two fixtures to fit in, in terms of a semi-final then hopefully a final, so it’s not too many games to squeeze into the calendar but it has to be before the end of the calendar year and hopefully that can coincide with supporters being back in stadiums too.
“[The semi-final] was a huge fixture in our schedule for the remainder of the season that was curtailed, and that’s not going to change.
“Once we get into the new season we know that we have this strange anomaly of having last season’s semi-final still to play but it’s such a big game, and such a big prize, that it will still be exciting.
“I don’t think you can downplay the excitement factor but hopefully it coincides with people being able to get into watch the match as well.”