Why SPFL dismissed Hibs' objections, gave Celtic green light for 2021 date switch and left Leeann Dempster 'fizzing'

Celtic’s request to move their first SPFL Premiership home match of 2021 to accommodate a winter training camp was granted against Hibs’ wishes – as the date was in the same weekend and league arbitration rules favour the host club.

Monday, 30th November 2020, 8:22 pm
Updated Monday, 30th November 2020, 8:42 pm
Iain Blair (right) said the SPFL policy favoured home clubs. (Picture: SNS Group Gary Hutchison)
Iain Blair (right) said the SPFL policy favoured home clubs. (Picture: SNS Group Gary Hutchison)

The league’s director of operations Iain Blair has moved to clear up the controversy over the date change which has seen a Saturday 3pm kick-off in Glasgow on January 9 switched to a Monday night match at Celtic Park – and left the Hibees ‘fizzing’.

Celtic applied to have the date changed to allow players to take part in a training camp following their traditional New Year Old Firm match with Rangers on January 2, and cited ‘player welfare’ as the reason for the switch.

However Hibs turned down the request and – as revealed by a furious chief executive Leeann Dempster earlier this evening – were not told the proposal had been given the green light despite their objections until the match announcement was made.

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The decision from the SPFL chiefs at Hampden brought anger from Hibs

The Easter Road supremo apologised to fans and said she was ‘fizzing’ with the decision – but the SPFL say the decision was granted by the league’s board because cases of stalemate will favour the host club, and added Hibs did not contest the decision before Ms Dempster’s public apology to supporters.

Director of Operations, Iain Blair, explained: “Celtic wished to move the fixture from its scheduled time, to another slot that weekend. When the two clubs could not reach agreement, I received a request from Celtic to move their home match against Hibernian to Monday January 11.

“I took the request to the SPFL Board, noting that Hibernian objected to the move. However, as the proposed date change fell within the same Friday - Monday fixture slot, and was made by the home club, I informed the SPFL Board that my intention was to agree to the request.

“As has been the case for the past 22 years, SPFL policy, where two clubs do not agree about a fixture change and in the absence of any other relevant factor, is to favour the home club. Both Celtic FC and Hibernian FC were advised of the change more than an hour before the decision was made public, with no adverse comment being received from Hibernian FC ahead of publication.”

Chief Executive of Hibernian Leeann Dempster was 'fizzing' at the decision (Mark Scates / SNS Group)

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