SPFL to consider moving Hearts semi-final to BT Murrayfield
The SPFL are to discuss moving Hearts' Betfred Cup semi-final clash with Celtic from Hampden Park to BT Murrayfield.
The decision to host both semi-finals on the same day at the same venue has been heavily criticised.
Aberdeen are set to face Rangers at Hampden on Sunday, October, 28 at noon, with Hearts v Celtic to follow at 7.45pm. The controversial plan was slammed by supporters and officials, with the evening kick-off for Hearts unsuitable for young fans while Aberdeen’s early start presents major travel issues for the Dons faithful. There were also fears over potential violence as four sets of supporters descended on Glasgow.
One of the semi-finals was due to take place on the Saturday but, with Celtic and Rangers both in European competition on the Thursday, that was ruled out.
The SPFL claimed both matches had to be played at Hampden due to a contractual agreement but today they announced that Hampden Park Limited have agreed to waive that obligation.
A new plan would see Aberdeen-Rangers played at Hampden and possibly put back to a mid-afternoon kick-off while the Jambos would face the Hoops in the Capital, potentially at lunchtime.
Doncaster said: “After the draw, we spoke to Hampden Park Limited to ask whether they would release us from a contractual obligation to host all semi-finals involving the Old Firm at Hampden. They declined our request and we were unwilling to breach this contract and risk legal action.
“However, I’m pleased to report that we have been contacted this morning by SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell, who said that Hampden Park Limited has now reconsidered that position and have agreed to waive that legal obligation.
“This is clearly extremely welcome news. We immediately contacted Police Scotland and informed them of this development and this has enabled us to open talks to explore whether the match could be staged at an alternative venue in the timescales available.
“Whilst we are taking nothing for granted and are unable to make a definitive announcement at this early stage, if agreement can be reached between all parties involved, this would allow us to change from the original kick-off times which Police Scotland specified to ensure the matches could be staged at Hampden on the same day. The good news is that fans would have more convenient travel arrangements.
“Whilst we received firm assurances from both Hampden Park Limited and Police Scotland that they were able to host both games on the same day, today’s very welcome call is a potential game-changer.
“Everyone recognises that it would be better if we can hold these matches in separate stadia and the fact that we’re now able to explore that option is great news.
“We will now discuss with a number of parties, including the SFA, Police Scotland and the clubs involved before reaching a definitive position, which we will announce as soon as possible to enable fans to make the necessary travel arrangements.”
Police Scotland earlier today confirmed that they were keen to reopen discussions with the SPFL over the schedule.
Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said: “We’re aware of issues and concerns that have been raised over the last few days about the date and venue of the League Cup semi-finals.
“As a responsible organisation and taking into account these public concerns, I think it sensible to discuss the issues raised with the SPFL and other stakeholders and I have asked the SPFL to look again at the transport plan so we can make a full public safety assessment.”