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Aberdeen brand League cup schedule ‘completely unacceptable’

Friday September 28th 2018 at 1:27 PM

Aberdeen football club has branded the decision to schedule next months League cup semi-final at Hampden for a 12-noon kick off as ‘completely unacceptable’.

Both semi-final games will be played on the same day, Sunday the 28th of October, with the Dons taking on Rangers at midday, before holders Celtic play Hearts at 7:45pm.

The SPFL took the decision because both Old Firm sides play Europa League group matches on Thursday the 25th of October – citing it as the “the best and most practical solution”.

However, the first scheduled train from Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street on a Sunday gets in 14 minutes after kick-off, with fans then having to travel for up to an hour across the city to get to Hampden.

The Pittodrie side will now have to approach ScotRail to look at commissioning special trains to accommodate the fixture.

A spokesperson for AFC 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.”

Hearts are equally aggrieved by the schedule, arguing the decision to play the fixture at Hampden on a Sunday night “is not in the best interest” of the game.

The SPFL said it is contractually obliged to play the matches at the national stadium, unless otherwise advised by the police.

Hearts owner Ann Budge said: “We were advised that our semi-final match with Celtic will be played at 7.45pm on Sunday, October 28th at Hampden with Aberdeen facing Rangers at the same venue at 12pm.

“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.

“It was explained that it was essential to play both games at Hampden because of contractual obligations between the SPFL and Hampden and that the heavily congested fixtures meant that postponing one of the games to the following week was not feasible.

She continued: “We were further advised that both Police Scotland and Hampden have given their assurances to the SPFL that they will be able to manage the demands of two games in one day.

“We discussed this at length and I made it clear that we were far from happy with the scheduling, particularly in light of the difficulties it would cause to all traveling supporters…from all clubs.

“At a time when Scottish football is thriving we should be doing all we can to encourage fans to come along…not make it difficult or even impossible.”

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