SFA president Rod Petrie has revealed the 2019-20 Scottish Cup will be played out – even if takes until next year.
And, in a move sure to please fans of both Hearts and Hibs, he has admitted the all-Edinburgh semi-final could be switched from Hampden to Murrayfield.
Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s meeting with Scottish Minister for Sport, Joe FitzPatrick, Petrie insisted the capital clubs, along with Aberdeen and Celtic, would get the chance to lift the famous old trophy.
“It’s the commitment of the SFA to play out our showpiece competition when it is safe to do so, and in front of spectators,” said Petrie.
“The Scottish Cup needs to be played to a completion – two semi-finals and a final – and we don’t feel a pressure of time as to when it will happen.
“It will be in line with the medical advice, social distancing and any other restrictions that are in place.
“We need to be open-minded enough to look at all considerations.
“It may be that the risks of 50,000 people travelling from Edinburgh to Glasgow are outweighed by other measures.
“But, equally, we need to do it in a manner that is fundamentally safe, creates a spectacle and provides some income for the participating clubs. That’s important, too.”
There is no intent, the 64-year-old reported, for the three games to be used as a glamour curtain-raiser for the return to action.
“That would be a great football suggestion, but I don’t think it’s practical,” he said.
“We need to give ourselves the time to start up in a manner which doesn’t put undue pressure on people.
“For these ties, teams will want to give a good account of themselves, and be at their competitive best when they play.
“The games are days out to look forward to. So, with no pressure on time, while we might be able to play them out in a closed-door environment, it is better to wait until we can get as many fans into the ground as possible to add to the colour.”
Petrie says a similarly patient approach is favoured for Scotland’s Nations League play-off semi-final against Israel, which was due on March 26, possibly followed by a Final against Norway or Serbia five days later.
However, with the Finals themselves pushed back to the summer of 2021 – though the event will still be known as Euro 2020 – Petrie again sees no need to rush.
“The tournament itself doesn’t start till June, 2021, so there are no pressures to play those two play-off fixtures to get into the tournament in 2020,” he said.
“Why not take the time? We want to give a great account of ourselves. We want the strongest Scotland team we can have.
“That means Scottish players being back playing domestic football to the best of their capabilities in a competitive environment so those players can try to make sure we qualify.
“Ultimately it is UEFA’s decision, and we will respect whatever decision they come to.
“They are looking at a programme to see how all the different fixtures fit into the calendar and, as time slips by and they get delayed, they will come up with dates where it will be possible to play them.
“But from my point of view, and a Scotland point of view, I don’t see us putting ourselves under undue pressure of time. That would not serves us at all.”
By then, Petrie hopes the row between the SPFL and Rangers will be resolved and preferably without any input from the Association.
“What we are witnessing can probably best be described as unedifying,” he said.
“It is not helpful to the image of the game. But these are important matters that the SPFL and the clubs need time to be resolved.
“The clubs and the SPFL have a mechanism to talk to each other about the matters, but it is not beyond the realms of possibility that there might still be dispute at the end of that process.
“In that case the Scottish FA is the final arbiter, so we might have a role to play then.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe