Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has criticised the Scottish Professional Football League’s (SPFL) decision to host the Scottish League Cup semi-final between Hearts and Celtic at Murrayfield, following an outcry over plans to hold it as part of a double-header at Hampden Park.
The SPFL had originally scheduled Aberdeen versus Rangers for 12:00 GMT on October 28th, with Celtic then due to face Hearts on the same pitch at 19:45, as the national football stadium initially refused to release the SPFL from a contractual obligation to hold all semi-finals involving Old Firm clubs at the ground.
However, that obligation was waived by Hampden Park following uproar from supporters and criticism of the plans by the Scottish Police Federation.
The SPFL announced the new arrangements in a statement, saying: “The Hearts vs Celtic match will kick off at BT Murrayfield at 13:30, with the Aberdeen vs Rangers game starting at Hampden at 16:30.
“In reaching our decision, we have consulted with Hampden Park, the Scottish FA, Scottish Rugby, Police Scotland, Transport Scotland via the Scottish Government and with the four clubs involved.
“A wide variety of issues have been considered, including the ability of local transport networks to safely and efficiently handle the flow of fans from all four teams to and from the stadia.”
However, Celtic boss Rodgers criticised the change in location, which will force his side to travel to Edinburgh.
BR on #BetfredCup semi-final: “I’m disappointed with the process. We all see the sense in not having the two games in the one venue on the same day. At least there’s a decision made to be away from Hampden but you have to be fair to all four teams and the supporters.”
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) October 3, 2018
Celtic won 1-0 away at St Johnstone to reach the semi-finals of a competition they won last season, beating Motherwell 2-0 in the final at Hampden Park.
Rodgers told reporters: “It just feels as if it’s assumed that Celtic and Hearts should go to Murrayfield.
“And if we’re talking about a neutral venue then it’s certainly not neutral with Hearts having played part of their season there last year.
“I’ve never been to Murrayfield in my life. I would hope that we would at least have the possibility to train there at some point before we would play a semi-final there.”
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