Hibs boss not impressed by SPFL’s handling of fixture change

Jack Ross was 'surprised' to discover his side’s trip to Parkhead had been moved from a Saturday to a Monday night.

Hibs boss not impressed by SPFL’s handling of fixture change SNS Group

Hibs manager Jack Ross has accused the SPFL of providing “weak” reasoning for moving his side’s trip to Celtic Park.

Ross believes the decision to accept Celtic’s fixture request, and the punishment of St Mirren and Kilmarnock for Covid-19 breaches, highlight the need to examine how Scottish football is run.

Ross was “surprised” to discover his side’s trip to Parkhead had been moved from a Saturday afternoon to January 11, a Monday night, after Hibs had rejected Celtic’s request, which was made to enable them to go on a warm-weather training camp.

Iain Blair, SPFL director of operations, claimed he had given Hibs one hour notice of his decision and was following league policy by favouring the home club.

Ross said: “Celtic were well within their rights to request a fixture change. The SPFL’s reasoning and explanation is weak but I disagree with that.

“There’s nothing we can do but I don’t think it was handled properly.

“When it comes around it’ll be fine. The game we play afterwards will be okay.

“People mistake any complaint over that game being moved to believe it weakens you for any future match.

“It’s more to do with the way it came around and how easy it was for the SPFL to make that decision.

“I don’t think that’s been the case in the past. I don’t think it’s ever been as easy to request a fixture change and for the SPFL to be so accommodating.”

Ross was just as disappointed with an SPFL tribunal’s decision to consign St Mirren to 3-0 defeats against Motherwell and Hamilton and Kilmarnock to the same punishment for their postponed game against the Steelmen.

“I don’t agree the punishment is befitting of the breaches,” Ross said.

“The SPFL have deemed it a fit punishment. We all have to adhere to that but I think it’s a disappointing day for Scottish football when we get to that point. I’m sure it will happen again as the season goes on.”

The former St Mirren boss added: “I don’t think those clubs have sought to seek any sporting advantage or sought to cut any corners. I can’t believe that for one second and I don’t think any of the evidence suggests that.

“Reading some of the breaches they’ve been found guilty of, like not sitting far enough apart on a coach, I’m sure players have sat closer together on an aeroplane with national teams.

“It was sadness and disappointment when we decide a 3-0 victory should be rewarded when clubs have been trying to do their best in very challenging circumstances.”

Stephen Robinson’s Motherwell side moved up three places in the Scottish Premiership and can cut the deficit on Hibs to two points when the teams meet at Fir Park on Saturday.

“It’s nothing to do with Stephen or the club, they just happen to be in the midst of these games,” Ross said. 

“They’d have believed they’d have won both anyway.

“It could have ramifications. You’d hope nothing was decided at the end of the season based on a game that was awarded a 3-0 victory. Even the 3-0 scoreline baffles me.

“I’m sure someone can try and find out how many times a team wins by three goals in the Premiership.”

Ross believes Scottish football should be dealing with the pandemic better than it is.

“I’d hope in the midst of the challenges of the last ten months we as an industry learn from any mistakes we’ve made or the flaws highlighted in our processes,” he said.

“Experience would tell me we’ve been in situations before which have made us reflect on processes and how we promote our game and we don’t get it right, which is a shame.

“It’s such a big part of culture and history and so many people care about it. So many things went on this week [that] highlight there are too many flaws.”

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