Scottish Parliament demand more answers from SFA over Scottish Cup final kick-off change
The Health, Social Care and Sport Committee has written again to chief executive Ian Maxwell on the decision to reschedule the kick-off time to 5.30pm.
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The Scottish Parliament have written to the SFA for a second time seeking more detailed answers relating to the decision to change the kick-off time for next month’s Scottish Cup final between Celtic and Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Both clubs expressed their anger after confirmation that the Hampden Park showpiece on Saturday, June 3 will kick off at the later than usual time of 5.30pm - going against a long-standing tradition. The move is believed to have been made to avoid a potential clash with the English FA Cup final between Manchester City and Manchester United, which kicks off at 3pm, following discussions with television broadcasters including the BBC, STV and Viaplay.
As a result, Celtic criticised a lack of consulation from the governing body while Championship side Inverness insist their supporters “will be greatly inconvenienced by the travel challenges they now face”. The Scottish FA’s decision prompted Claire Haughey, convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, to write a letter to chief executive Ian Maxwell last week, outlining concerns over the “dangerous precedent” being set. She also raised questions over how the decision was reached and what provisions are in place for fans to be compensated.
However, after being left “disappointed” with the response received to those questions, she has written to Maxwell again to demand a more detailed explanation.
The letter read: “Dear Mr Maxwell. I am writing further to your letter of 11 May, in which you set out the reasons behind the SFA’s decision to reschedule the kick-off time for the 2023 Scottish Cup Final to 5.30pm on 3 June.
“I was disappointed that your letter failed to set out (as the Committee had requested) what prior discussions you have had with Scottish Government Ministers, with transport service providers and with fan associations to ensure any disruption to individual travel plans caused by the change of kick-off time would be kept to an acceptable minimum. The Committee would be grateful for a full response to this request.
“The Committee also finds your response that “In relation to public transport issues, we have been assured by the club that this is not the case” to be less than satisfactory. I would ask that, in responding to this letter, you set out what steps the SFA has taken to compensate travelling fans for the additional travel costs they will have incurred as a direct result of the change of kick-off time. If no such compensation has been put in place, I would ask that you set out the reasons behind this.
“It is regrettable that the announcement of this change was made only one calendar month before the game is scheduled to take place, following confirmation on 26 April that the FA Cup Final would kick off at 3pm that same day and in response to apparent pressure from broadcasters. It is equally regrettable that, instead of the SFA assuming responsibility, the onus for resolving the disruption caused by this decision has apparently been placed on clubs and fans.
“Subsequent to your previous letter, I note in particular the open letter from Inverness Caledonian Thistle Supporters Trust (ICTST), which describes the decision as “totally uncaring”, states that the implications of the change of kick-off time “remain unresolved” and concludes: “Fans have been betrayed by those supposedly deemed to represent us, the SFA”.
“In responding to this letter, I would request that you address directly the points raised by the ICTST’s open letter and the steps you intend to take to rebuild trust with travelling fans and supporters’ groups.
“Given the late stage of this announcement, when a 3pm kick-off time for the Scottish Cup Final had already been fixed some time earlier, the Committee would also wish to understand what lessons the SFA will draw to ensure such a situation does not arise again and that the Scottish Cup Final’s traditional 3pm kick-off time can be safeguarded in future years. On behalf of the Committee, I look forward to receiving a detailed response to the points raised in this letter no later than Wednesday, 31 May.”
The Committee tweet, linking to the letter, for retweeting purposes is here: https://twitter.com/SP_HSCS/status/1658780696138113027