Gordon Strachan says the Scottish Premiership can’t afford to lose Hibs as well as Hearts.
The Tynecastle club had their long-anticipated relegation to the Championship confirmed at the start of the month.
And if they can continue their recent form by beating Terry Butcher’s men at Easter Road this afternoon, it will go a long way towards putting their capital city rivals into the dreaded play-off.
The struggles of another of the country’s biggest names may have proved an entertaining sideshow for neutrals this season.
However, the Scotland manager argued, it is of huge concern for anyone with an affinity for the Leith outfit.
“Listen, Hibs going down wouldn’t be great,” said the man who was a regular at Easter Road as a boy and who smilingly waves off questions as to whether he was ever offered the manager’s job there.
“It would be a body-blow for the community in Edinburgh that I come from. The people at the golf club I go to and who go to all the games. They would feel a terrible loss.
“There is a magic to Hibs, Hearts and Rangers all being together.
“I’m not being derogatory to other clubs, but it would be nice if, somehow, they could all maximise what they’ve got the same way as Aberdeen have this season.
“They had 40,000 down in Glasgow for the League Cup Final last month. That was brilliant business for everyone.
“I remember coming to Hampden in 2004 when Hibs played Livingston in the League Cup Final. I went along with another Hibs fan and my wife.
“There was some crowd: there were 45,000 with around 30,000 wearing green and white.
“Obviously you can’t get that crowd every week because people just don’t have the finances to do it every week.
“In an ideal world it would be great to have Hibs, Hearts and Rangers all in the top flight.”
While saying that, the national manager shares the public’s enthusiasm for the play-offs.
With crowds up and more matches with something at stake than ever before, the national manager finds it hard to see a downside.
“Whoever made that one up did well because it’s been a good one,” he said, talking at the announcement of the SPFA’s shortlist for the Manager of the Year award.
“The play-offs have kept everything alive. As we stand, five teams are involved at the bottom.
“Now, I have no doubt the respective managers of those clubs will be saying: ‘What a rotten idea this is.’
“As a coach you do feel for them because, trust me, the excitement of chasing prizes is far more enjoyable than trying to avoid a nasty fate at the bottom.
“For everyone else, though, it has been great!”
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