St Johnstone to use SPFL ‘trampling’ as motivation against Hibs

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright looks ahead to his club's League Cup semi-final clash with Hibs. Picture: SNS

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright looks ahead to his club's League Cup semi-final clash with Hibs. Picture: SNS

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St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright has hit out at Scottish league bosses for ‘trampling’ on his club - but warned they would relish the chance to overcome the disadvantage thrown their way for the League Cup semi-final against Hibernian.

Saints have been angered by the failure of the Scottish Professional Football League to carry through its promise to give an extra 600 tickets to the Perth club after they sold out their initial allocation for the 3,400-seat Roseburn Stand at Tynecastle. Instead, the tickets were given to Hibs because of segregation issues.

To compound their fans’ treatment, Wright was disappointed that Michael O’Halloran’s face was photo-shopped on to a Rangers player in a feature on the SPFL’s official YouTube channel after the Ibrox club failed with two bids for the Saints forward.

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Wright, who is “very confident” O’Halloran will be with Saints after the transfer deadline closes, said: “Two things have happened this week: the ticket thing and then you have Michael O’Halloran superimposed on a Rangers kit. I don’t think that’s very fair to St Johnstone Football Club either.

“But it’s okay to do it for a small club. It wouldn’t happen to any of the bigger clubs - they wouldn’t dare do that to any of the bigger clubs.

“But it happens in all walks of life, not just the football. When you’re down the ladder a little bit, you tend to get trampled on at times.

“It’s something we are getting used to. We know our place: we are well down the pecking order.

“We are quite adept at proving people wrong on the pitch and playing to a level that doesn’t equal the size of the club. We will use every means we can to motivate the players.

“We’ve reaped success with it, so keep it coming.”

Saints only found out on Monday that their extra tickets would not be forthcoming.

Wright said: “It’s unfortunate when a promise is made, it’s not kept. If it wasn’t going to happen, the information should have been out earlier.

“It’s another example of small clubs getting the rough end of the stick. It shouldn’t have happened. A promise was made and wasn’t kept.

“And it’s quite good if someone comes out and says ‘sorry, we made a mistake here’ and holds their hand up. Because if you do that, people on the outside and people who are involved in it might respect you a bit more.

“I think there’s been some contact between (SPFL chief executive) Neil Doncaster and my chairman (Steve Brown) but I’m unaware of any official contact.”

Hibs fans will fill three stands on Saturday but Wright believes his players will rise to the challenge.

“That doesn’t faze us,” he said. “We experience that quite a bit. So it doesn’t faze us that our fans will be outnumbered, but it would have been nice if a few more could have got to the game.

“I think that will help us and motivate us, the atmosphere.”

Wright revealed on Monday that three experienced players were “extremely doubtful” but defender Dave Mackay will shake off a hip problem to play.

“Dave Mackay will make it, Murray Davidson (hip) and Chris Millar (hamstring) are 50-50,” Wright said.

“I’m delighted to have Dave Mackay fully fit and raring to go, he’s my captain and a leader on the pitch so it’s important he is fit and ready to play.”

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