Hibs boss insists Scottish football is scared of the Old Firm

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Hibs Paul Heckingbottom insists he is determined to help change Scottish football’s deep-rooted inferiority complex towards the Old Firm.

The Leith side are preparing to host Celtic in today’s televised encounter with their opponents on the brink of sealing an eighth successive Premiership title and a third straight treble.

Upon his arrival in game north of the border for the first time in February, Heckingbottom admits he was struck by a palpable feeling among the football fraternity that both the Hoops and Rangers are both untouchable.

If such a compliant attitude does exist as the former Leeds United and Barnsley manager claims, there is an abundance of reasons for it.

No team outside the Glasgow clubs has won the top-flight since Sir Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen took the chequered flag in 1985.

Then there is the yawning gulf in finances. According to the 2018 Global Sports Salaries report, Celtic pay their players more than £700,000 more per year than every other top-flight club barring Rangers.

The only blot in Heckingbottom’s early stewardship remains last month’s Scottish Cup loss at the hands of Celtic, Hibs having gone unbeaten in the league under the 41-year-old, collecting 20 points from a possible 24.

However, the Barnsley-born coach is keen to lead an uprising in the Scottish game.

“You can pay them too much respect, sit off them too much,” remarked Heckingbottom, who was quick to point out that such a mind-set does not exist within his own squad.

“I’ve heard it ‘Ah, Celtic are the best team, they’ll win the league…’ and barring Rangers, everyone sort of accepts that.

“That’s where I’d love to change that mentality, of everyone and every team.

“You speak to people in the game, speak to media, speak to fans, as someone who’s come up into the league, and when you can play each other four times a year, there’s just this ‘Aw, it’s Celtic again, we’re not taking points there…’

“It’s in people’s language. I get what they mean but there’s that many people say it, that everyone starts to believe it.

“And that’s been the biggest thing I’ve seen since I came up, with Celtic in particular but also Rangers to lesser extent.

“I’m just someone coming up with fresh eyes and seeing that. 

“They’ve got good players, a good team and to keep the hunger to do it year on year, is good, but come on, let’s everyone step up and give them a good fight, eh?”