Hibernian head coach Jack Ross has expressed his disappointment at the decision to only allow 600 fans in to the Scottish Cup final – and says he can’t understand the thinking behind the limit.
The cup final at Hampden was initially mean to be played behind closed doors before the Scottish FA secured permission from UEFA and the Scottish Government to allow some supporters in to watch the action. However, the governing body were told that only 600 could attend, with the allocation then split between finalists Hibs and St Johnstone.
There had been hopes that up to 2000 fans would be able to attend the game at the national stadium, which will host 12,000 supporters just weeks after the cup final when Euro 2020 games come to Glasgow. In England, 21,000 people will be in attendance at this weekend’s FA Cup final.
The difference between the games at Hampden can be explained by a two-metre distancing rule being in place for the Scottish Cup final but an agreement being in place to drop that distance to 1.5 metres for the Euros.
Ross says he can’t grasp the rationale behind the decisions.
“There’s been a lot of things over the last year and a half I’ve understood, but others I’ve struggled to get my head around,” he said.
“And I can’t quite understand this decision. I’m sure, as always happens, that people will come out in the aftermath of anyone complaining and point out why they’re right and we’re wrong.
“But I do find it baffling to be honest. We should never underestimate the significance this game plays in a lot of people’s lives in Scotland.
“So I do think it’s a little bit peculiar that we’ve only let this amount of fans into the ground. It would be nice to have a clear explanation.
“I know there has been reasons offered for it. I think for normal people – those who aren’t blessed with scientific knowledge or information – it’s quite a difficult thing to comprehend.
“One of the reasons given was about need for the two-metre distancing outside. Now I may be mistaken – and if I am I apologise – but I think from Monday’s it’s a metre distancing required for indoor hospitality.
“Yet it’s two-metre distancing outside for the final. I’m a layman when it comes to science but I don’t quite get that.
“It’s a shame, especially when you see that not that far away in the same country, because we are part of the United Kingdom, there is an awful lot more going to be at another cup final.
“In the not too distant future, there’s going to be a lot more people than 600 inside the same stadium.
“So I just find it difficult to comprehend. I feel it’s a missed opportunity to have a lot more people participate in something that means an awful lot to them.”
Before turning his full attention to the final, Ross will see his players take on Celtic in the final league game of the season.
The match will be Celtic captain Scott Brown’s last for the club before he leaves for Aberdeen and Ross praised the player who has been a key figure for the Glasgow club since moving from Easter Road in 2007.
“It’s important I pay tribute to Scott and what he’s achieved at Celtic,” he said. “It’s absolutely remarkable the number of trophies he’s won and the contribution he’s made to his club and country too.
“I’m sure it will be a strange feeling for him when full-time goes.”
He also noted that goalkeeper Ofir Marciano will be saying his farewell at Hibs after the game.
He said: “From our point of view, it’s Ofir’s final game before he moves onto a fresh challenge it will be an emotional day as well, particularly given what he has contributed here.
“He’s spoken about how much living in Scotland has become part of his life from a family perspective.
“It’s important for us we try to give him a fitting farewell by winning the game.”