ABERDEEN and Hearts raised major objections after the Betfred Cup semi-finals were both scheduled for Hampden on the same day.
The Dons were “dismayed” to be told that their game against Rangers will kick off at noon on Sunday, October 28, while Hearts owner Ann Budge claimed their 7.45pm start against Celtic risked putting off supporters.
Budge claimed that Hampden Park bosses had refused a request to release the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) from its contractual obligation to stage both semi-finals at the national stadium.
But Aberdeen felt other alternatives should have been explored to find a way round the problem caused by both Glasgow clubs being involved in the Europa League on the Thursday and thus unable to play on Saturday.
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 in a statement: “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.”
Aberdeen described the decision to ask their fans to get to Hampden on a Sunday morning as “appalling”.
A club statement added: “As a club we have repeatedly asked that the authorities stop giving us kick-off times which, for our large travelling support, are completely unacceptable, but yet again what should be a showpiece occasion is scheduled to start at a time that does not take supporters into account.
“While we appreciate Police Scotland was insistent that our game was played first for operational reasons, we believe, and stated along with others, that having both games in the same stadium on the same day is inappropriate.
“There are other options that should have been investigated further, including staging the two games on consecutive weekends or using two different venues which would have allowed kick-off times more suitable for what are hugely significant occasions in the Scottish football calendar.
“Contesting the two matches on consecutive weekends would be an alternative surely worth investigating, particularly as Celtic are due to face Heart of Midlothian in the Ladbrokes Premiership the following weekend, while also fulfilling the contractual obligations.”