HEARTS manager Craig Levein described the SPFL’s decision to hold both Betfred Cup semi-finals on the same day at Hampden as “absolute madness” at his pre-match media conference on Friday.
The fixtures will see Aberdeen travel to the National Stadium to play Rangers in the lunchtime kick-off, with Hearts scheduled to play Celtic in the evening.
“It’s the craziest thing I’ve probably experienced in football,” Levein said.
“There are four semi-finals in the season in the two big cup competitions so it’s a huge thing for Scottish football. And how they have come to this decision is just beyond belief.
“It’s just madness, honestly. There are so many things that could go wrong.”
Levein added that he wanted half the tickets and wanted a huge Hearts presence at Hampden. “We are not getting that on a Sunday night,” he said.
“You need supporters to come to the game to make it what it is. And we’re actually discouraging them from coming to the game. It’s absolute madness.”
The evening kick-off would cause difficulties in fans getting back through to Edinburgh on Sunday service trains.
The problem would be exacerbated should the tie go to extra time and penalties.
In a statement yesterday, Hearts owner Ann Budge declared she was “astonished” by the decision and had “serious concerns that the planned schedule is not in the best interest of Scottish football, the club and certainly not the supporters”.
She added: “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.
“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. We were assured by the representative from Hampden that this would not be a problem.
“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 that a formal request had been made following our meeting but that no release from our contractual obligations was possible.”