Hearts’ Ann Budge will lobby SPFL to change Betfred Cup semis plan

Hearts owner Ann Budge says the SPFL should be thinking outside the box to come up with a suitable plan for the Betfred Cup semi-final schedule. Picture: SNS
Hearts owner Ann Budge says the SPFL should be thinking outside the box to come up with a suitable plan for the Betfred Cup semi-final schedule. Picture: SNS
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Hearts owner Ann Budge has pleaded with the Scottish Professional Football League to ditch their “hugely risky” plan for the Betfred Cup semi-finals and think outside the box.

Budge has vowed to continue pressing for a better alternative to plans for a Hampden double header – which she branded “almost a disaster waiting to happen”. The Tynecastle chairwoman questioned whether even the SPFL thought it was a good idea to stage games between Rangers and Aberdeen at noon and then Hearts and Celtic at 7.45pm at the same stadium on 28 October.

She explained that the four clubs were presented with the plan on Thursday and added: “You could have knocked me down with a feather.” Budge told BBC Radio Scotland: “We were silent for a couple of minutes while we were trying to take it in and then the conversation went straight on to it being totally unacceptable for the fans.

“It was flying in the face of everything we keep saying, which is we should be doing everything in our power to attract more fans and this was clearly, absolutely the wrong decision from that perspective. It certainly doesn’t suit Hearts or Aberdeen, there’s no question about that. And I did ask the question of the other clubs, I said: ‘Can I just be clear, does anyone think this is a good solution?’

“And all of the four clubs agreed that it wasn’t. The Glasgow clubs were thinking from a fans’ perspective and anticipating difficulties for some of their support that come from far and wide.”

Budge acknowledged the security fears raised by politicians and others.

“Everybody must recognise that it’s almost a disaster waiting to happen,” she said. “There are going to be four different large clubs, all converging at the same time, all wanting to do the same thing. They’ll be arriving early to go for a pint, they will be going back to the pubs after the first game. It really is a big problem.

“Clearly, no-one believes this is a good solution. I don’t think the SPFL believe it’s a good solution. I do know how hugely complex it is and the guys who are doing it have been doing it for a long time but I do think we have to almost forget some of the constraints and think out the box and say ‘hang on a minute here, we have got to find a better solution’.”

Budge urged the league to revisit it on Monday, when the clubs are due at Hampden to discuss ticket allocations.