HIBS head coach Jack Ross is adamant all semi-finalists still have the ‘hunger’ to finish the 2019/20 Scottish Cup – even if the Hampden showpiece must be played behind closed doors.
The Easter Road outfit are due to face city rivals Hearts on either October 31 or November 1, with Celtic crossing swords with Aberdeen in the other last-four clash. The final has been slated for December 20.
Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell has repeatedly cited the financial and sporting benefits of concluding the tournament, with around £3m ordinarily generated by those three marquee fixtures.
However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has predicted a bleak winter in the fight against a resurgent Covid-19 and the timeline for getting any supporters back into stadiums – let alone en masse – looks a lengthy one.
Nevertheless, with some onlookers questioning the wisdom of finishing last season’s Scottish Cup in this new context, Ross says the show must go on.
Ross said: “We would have hoped that it would be that showpiece event.
“All of us were desperate to have supporters back in the stadium and we would much prefer that but my job is to prepare us for football fixtures – and this is no different.
“We can’t do anything about it [lack of fans], we just have to accept it. The opportunity to win the Scottish Cup remains for us and that’s the most important thing to focus on.
“If we think back to the first round we played in, we spoke about winning the Scottish Cup.
“That opportunity looked like it might be taken away from us when the season was called to a halt and, if it had been voided, then fine. We would have accepted it and understood it.
“However, once the decision was made to continue with it we were delighted. I think the hunger still remains for all four teams that remain in the competition.”