Ian Maxwell: Traditional 3pm kick-off time would ‘diminish’ Scottish Cup final this year
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Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell claims it is “not ideal” to re-schedule the Scottish Cup final kick-off time - but insists keeping the event at its traditional 3pm slot would have “diminshed” this year’s staging.
The governing body faced widespread criticism from finalists Celtic and Inverness after deciding to move the starting time to 5.30pm on June 3 to avoid a potential viewing clash with the FA Cup final and Women’s Champions League final at 3pm on the same day.
Caley Thistle supporters initally faced major travel issues, with no prospect of gettting transport by rail back to the Highland capital after the showpiece match. A special train service will cost £78 for an adult return ticket.
The cup final, which will be shown live by Viaplay Sports and BBC Scotland, is likely to return to it’s mid-afternoon kick-off time in the future, with Maxwell insisting they had to consider the best time to gain the biggest audience.
Speaking at an event to launch the SFA’s Week of Football initiative, a nation-wide celebration of the game, Maxwell told STV: “The Scottish FA’s preference was absolutely for a 3pm kick-off time. The English FA Cup final is on at three o’clock, the Women’s Champions League final is at three o’clock.
“So we then had a decision to make about other sporting events at the time: do you go up against them and diminish the competition viewership that you could get across the UK or do you move it and try and give it its own breathing space? That’s what we decided to do.
“We would have preferred it at three o’clock but in terms of the gravitas and the scale we can showcase the game, we felt moving it gave us the best opportunity to do that. We had conversations with broadcaster partners. It was highlighted that to give them the spectacle that we wanted it to be, it made sense to move the kick-off time to later on in the day.
“We engaged with Inverness before the decision was made, they were happier with a later kick-off than an earlier kick-off. I am delighted that they have announced their agreement with ScotRail that will see them put on additional transport to make sure everyone can get home. It’s not ideal but I’m sure it will be a great spectacle.”
Maxwell has admitted the introduction of VAR in Scottish football this season has proved challenging, but remains adamant it works well and decision-making has improved. The video technology was brought into the Premiership back in October and has been at the centre of many controversial decisions.
He stated: “Listen, it’s been difficult. It was always going to be such a high-profile addition that there was always going to be contention round about it. The technology works. I would be naive to say that it’s been perfect because it’s not. We are getting fewer decisions wrong, there is no doubt about that.”