Scottish FA chief Ian Maxwell admits it is “not ideal” to move the Scottish Cup final from the traditional kick-off time but says the preference will always be for a 3pm kick-off time in the future.
Celtic meet Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the showpiece final at Hampden Park on June 3 but the governing body announced that the match will start at 5.30pm in Glasgow.
That change avoids a clash with the FA Cup final between Manchester United and Manchester City, which kicks off at 3pm.
Both clubs criticised the SFA for their decision, and said that they believed the traditional mid-afternoon kick-off should have been kept despite the competition for broadcasters.
Maxwell, speaking at an even to launch the Scottish FA’s Week of Football, a nation-wide celebration of the game, said the Scottish FA take 3pm as a starting point for their plans but had to consider the best slot for the biggest audience.
“The Scottish FA’s preference was absolutely for a 3pm kick-off time,” he told STV.
“We then had a decision to make about other sporting events at the time and we had conversations with broadcaster partners that we have.
“It was highlighted that to give them the spectacle that we wanted it to be and to get as much viewership as we can, it made sense to move the kick-off time to later on in the day.
“We are delighted that Inverness have worked as c loosely as they have with Scotrail and that means supporters can get down to the match and get home on the same day. Inverness were happier with a later kick-off time than an earlier one.”
“It’s not ideal but I’m sure it will be a great spectacle.”
Celtic claimed the decision had been made without proper consultation with the clubs, while Inverness said they had written to Hampden bosses to make their feelings clear. Maxwell admitted that wasn’t what the Scottish FA wanted but that a decision had to be made in the best interests of promoting the game and letting as many people see the match as possible.
“It was disappointing and it was one of those decisions that we had to make as a governing body,” he said. “Kick-off times change and football is no longer played at just 3pm on a Saturday. There’s a variety of different kick-off times on a variety of different days of the week.
“We took the decision that the best thing was to delay the kick-off time to 5.30pm to give it the best opportunity to be seen across the UK.
“Our preference was for a 3pm kick-off time and it will always be for a 3pm kick-off time. For a Scottish Cup final there are a number of factors that need to be taken into account.”
Meanwhile the governing body has announced the match officials for the final. John Beaton will referee the match, with Graeme Stewart and Gordon Crawford as his assistants. Steven McLean will head up the VAR team.
For the Women’s Scottish Cup final on May 28 between Celtic and Rangers, which launches the Week of Football, David Munro will referee with Vikki Robertson and Sean Carr assisting. Gavin Duncan is the VAR official, with the technology being used in the fixture for the first time.