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October 16, 2018
Celtic-Hearts could shift to Murrayfield as Scottish League Cup faces shake-up
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Celtic-Hearts could shift to Murrayfield as Scottish League Cup faces shake-up

Current plans would see Hampden host both games on Sunday 28 October.

This month’s Scottish League Cup semi-final arrangements could be changed – with one heading to Edinburgh – amid criticism of the original plans.

The Scottish Professional Football league is considering moving Hearts’ meeting with Celtic to Murrayfield on Sunday afternoon, 28 October.

Rangers and Aberdeen would still meet at Hampden – but in late afternoon.

Police Scotland had earlier asked for further talks about the plan to hold both at Hampden that day.

Aberdeen are scheduled to meet Rangers at noon, with Celtic playing Hearts at 19.45 BST.

Scottish Police Federation’s general secretary had called the timings “idiotic” and that was followed by Assistant Chief Constable Bernie Higgins calling for a rethink on transport plans and negotiations on other concerns surrounding the ties.

“We’re aware of issues and concerns that have been raised over the last few days about the date and venue of the League Cup semi-finals,” Higgins said.

“As a responsible organisation and taking into account these public concerns, I think it sensible to discuss the issues raised with the SPFL and other stakeholders and I have asked the SPFL to look again at the transport plan so we can make a full public safety assessment.”

The ties were originally planned for October 27 and 28, but the Saturday was ruled out since Rangers and Celtic are in Europa League action on the Thursday.

Following a meeting with all four clubs, the SPFL announced that hosting both matches on Sunday was the only solution, due to lack of flexibility with fixtures and a contractual obligation to use the national stadium in Glasgow.

Aberdeen and Hearts condemned the decision, citing the problems fans would have travelling.

Hearts owner Ann Budge expressed safety concerns, saying the plan was “almost a disaster waiting to happen”.

And Scottish Police Federation general secretary Calum Steele told BBC Scotland that “the police service is going to be run ragged”.

‘Public order paramount’

The issue was raised at Holyrood, with MSPs saying the plans had been “botched” and displayed a “disregard” for fans and a “lack of consideration for families”.

Sports minister Joe Fitzpatrick told MSPs that there was “anger” among fans, saying he hoped that the SPFL would “listen” and “reach the appropriate outcome”.

He said: “Discussions are continuing and I understand that Police Scotland has asked the SPFL to review its plans and has sought assurance around public safety. I know that will be welcomed by many fans.

“Police Scotland will review further information and discuss any issues further with the SPFL. It’s vital that public order and safety remain paramount in any decision going forward. I would also ask the SPFL to make sure they are considering the fans and the interests of Scottish football in any decision.”

Source BBC News

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