Aberdeen and Hearts angered by decision to host two League Cup semi-finals at Hampden Park on October 28
By Lyall Thomas
Last Updated: 27/09/18 11:43pm
Aberdeen and Hearts have expressed their dismay at the SPFL's decision to host two Scottish League Cup semi-finals at Hampden Park on Sunday, October 28.
The SPFL confirmed Aberdeen will face Rangers at midday before Hearts play Celtic at 7.45pm at Scotland's national stadium.
Aberdeen say they are "appalled" by the decision, saying it is "completely unacceptable" for their large travelling support to be expected to travel to Glasgow for the 12pm kick-off.
The journey from Aberdeen to Glasgow is up to three hours away by train and around two-and-a-half hours away by road.
SPFL chief executive Neal Doncaster admitted to Sky Sports News the arrangements were "not ideal" but Police Scotland have assured the governing body it is manageable.
But an Aberdeen spokesperson on Thursday said: "As a club we have repeatedly asked that the authorities stop giving us kick-off times which, for our large travelling support, are completely unacceptable.
"But yet again, what should be a showpiece occasion, is scheduled to start at a time that does not take supporters into account.
"While we appreciate Police Scotland was insistent that our game was played first for operational reasons, we believe, and stated along with others, that having both games in the same stadium on the same day, is inappropriate.
"There are other options that should have been investigated further, including staging the two games on consecutive weekends or using two different venues which would have allowed kick-off times more suitable for what are hugely significant occasions in the Scottish football calendar.
"Contesting the two matches on consecutive weekends would be an alternative surely worth investigating, particularly as Celtic are due to face Heart of Midlothian in the Ladbrokes Premiership the following weekend, while also fulfilling the contractual obligations.
"We appreciate the authorities have a difficult job to schedule games in what is an extremely congested calendar but to yet again ask our supporters to be in Glasgow for a 12 noon start on a Sunday is, quite frankly, appalling."
Meanwhile, Hearts owner Ann Budge says she was "astonished" both games would be played on the same day at Hampden Park.
Budge also raised concerns about the state of the pitch for the second game involving Hearts, especially if the weather is poor.
She said in a statement: "Whatever options I may have expected, I was astonished, and I was not alone in that regard, to be informed that both games would be played on the same day at Hampden. I had gone into the meeting, confident that the games would be scheduled for different venues...or if not, for different days.
"I also expressed my concern, from a footballing point of view, in terms of whether the pitch would stand up to two games in one day, especially if the weather is bad."
Budge asked representatives at Hampden to waive their contractual agreement regarding both games needing to be played at the ground.
She ended her statement: "Still concerned, I asked whether the SPFL would explore with Hampden the possibility of releasing us from the obligation to play both games at Hampden given the very special circumstances. I was advised late this afternoon that a formal request had been made following our meeting but that no release from our contractual obligations was possible.
"In summary, I have made my feelings clear, on behalf of Heart of Midlothian Football Club, both in person and in writing, that we do have serious concerns that the planned schedule is not in the best interest of Scottish football, the club and certainly not the supporters.
"Following further conversations this evening, I do not believe the plan can/will be changed. However, we will remain in dialogue with the SPFL to try to ensure we make this occasion what it should be; a memorable day out for the supporters of all four football clubs involved in the competition."