Jack Ross: Hibs boss mulls over winter break amid serious fixture congestion

Hibs manager Jack Ross says that he would give up the winter break if it meant that there was less likelihood of major fixture congestion.

Hibs boss Jack Ross.
Hibs boss Jack Ross.

The Easter Road gaffer has expressed his annoyance at the scheduling of eight matches in 26 days as his players head towards the first major cup final of the season on December 19, saying he is baffled by the SPFL’s decision to squeeze so many games in before the Premier Sports Cup final and the winter shutdown, rather than carry some over to the spring, when the calendar tends to free up.

“It almost feels like, and I am not part of the discussions so I don't know, but my opinion is that there is almost a flexing of muscle and a show of strong governance over fixture scheduling,” said Ross, who raised his concerns in the wake of his team’s 3-1 semi-final defeat of Rangers on Sunday. “Yet, when it comes to other stuff, the other aspects of the game that require strong governance, these same people are nowhere to be seen.

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“But, you can't be selective in terms of how you choose to govern the game. Common sense would suggest that as both teams [in the cup final, both Hibs and Celtic] would like assistance then there might be something that could be done but there appears to be zero appetite from the SPFL to take that into consideration.

“I like the winter break. I think if you ask most staff and players at clubs, they welcome the opportunity to have that break in the season. It's a three-week break from fixtures, in truth you only have a week away from training but it probably is beneficial

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“However, if it meant we always had congested fixtures in other parts of the season then we would maybe put forward a different opinion.

“I think it's the period after that [which is the issue]. From memory the latter part of the season always seems to be stretched out. Last season, in particular, it felt like we played only three games in the last five or six weeks of the season.”

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He said that rather than help Hibs, who have a pile up of games due to Covid, and Celtic, who are juggling domestic and European commitments, the SPFL had shown their intransigence and doubled down by squeezing the league matches which have been displaced by the cup final into an already jam-packed schedule.

Angry over so many matches being unnecessarily shoe-horned in has been exacerbated by the SPFL’s unwavering stance on ticket allocation for the showcase match, with Hibs receiving just 17500, rather than the 50/50 split Ross says is important for sporting integrity.

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“That’s another anomaly, if you like, in Scottish football, for a cup final, to take the approach of dividing the crowd unevenly, prior to the sale of any tickets.

“I can understand the reallocation of tickets, if necessary. I think Hampden is a stadium that can be segregated quite easily; we’ve seen that over the years.

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“Historically, we are a club that has taken huge numbers to cup finals and would sell the allocation for the cup final, without a doubt.

“So, not to have the opportunity to have an equal share of the tickets for the final is ridiculous.”

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Jack Ross questions 'peculiar governance' of SPFL after Hibs and Celtic handed n...

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