Hearts owner Ann Budge unimpressed as SPFL fixtures throw up home matches in August & Hibs clashes on midweek evenings

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BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport

HEARTS owner Ann Budge has taken a swipe at the SPFL after the first two Edinburgh derbies of the weekend were scheduled for midweek evenings – as the capital club reiterated that they will not host any fixtures in August.

League bosses and Premiership rivals have been aware for several months that the Jambos would be unable to play any home matches until the completion of their new £12 million main stand on September 9.

The Gorgie outfit fully expected that to be reflected when the fixtures were released yesterday.

However, it is understood that unimpressed Hearts chiefs were only informed on Thursday, less than 24 hours before the schedule was released, that they would initially be handed home matches to play before the construction is finished, due to limitations in the way the fixtures are generated.

They are now in talks with Kilmarnock and Motherwell – who they have been slated to face at Tynecastle on August 12 and 26 respectively – and it is expected that both clubs will be receptive to a switch of venues.

In the unlikely event that they cannot come to an agreement, it is thought the SPFL will afford Hearts special dispensation to postpone both fixtures, albeit that scenario would leave Ian Cathro’s side with an onerous start to the season of fixtures against Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen.

In a statement released yesterday, a Hearts spokesperson said: “The club previously agreed with the SPFL that no home games would be scheduled for Tynecastle prior to September 9. However the computer model used by the SPFL could not accommodate this scheduling.

“Therefore, although [Friday’s] published fixture list shows that Hearts are due home matches in rounds two and four, there is absolute clarity and agreement that this will not be possible and these games will not be played at Tynecastle.

“We have been assured by the SPFL that this is not an issue and our fellow Premiership clubs have all been very co-operative and sympathetic to our position. We are therefore urgently exploring the different options available to us with regards to rearranging these two fixtures and an announcement will be made shortly.”

Hearts are also irked by the scheduling of their initial encounters against Edinburgh foes Hibs.

This season will see the city rivals will clash in the top-flight for the first time since 2014 and Budge believes fans are being short-changed by the decision to hold the first two capital clashes on Wednesday evenings – at Easter Road on October 25 and Tynecastle on December 27.

And she hinted that the club will seek to move the games.

“I think it is fantastic to have the Edinburgh derby back,” Budge told Sky Sports News. “I’m sure every football fan in Edinburgh is looking forward to that.

“I’m slightly disappointed that the first two derbies are evening games and I think everyone will feel disappointed by that. Again, we will see if anything can be done about that.”

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