By Daniel Lewis

18th Oct, 2023 | 12:10pm

BBC pundit lashes out at Rangers v Hearts decision that will leave players 'livid'

Ryan Stevenson says Hearts players will be left “livid” by the SPFL’s decision to not make the Scottish League Cup semi-final with Rangers a 50-50 split in terms of tickets.

Hearts have been given an initial allocation of 18,000 rising to 20,000 for the 5 November showdown at Hampden Park, which has a capacity of just under 52,000.

Rangers have been given a larger share of tickets due to the size of the fanbase, but former Hearts player Stevenson is not happy with the decision.

Writing for the Daily Record‘s online edition [18 October], Stevenson said: “The SPFL’s decision not to hand Hearts a 50-50 split of tickets for the Viaplay Cup semi final against Rangers is absolute stupidity. But sadly with these guys in charge it doesn’t surprise me.

“I just don’t know how they can think it’s acceptable to give Hearts 18,000 – maybe rising to 20,000 – in a 52,000 stadium? Well I do, actually. They’ve just caved in to Rangers, it’s plain as day. It’s a joke. Hearts could take 30,000 fans to Hampden, no problem.”

Stevenson, who regularly commentates on games for BBC Sport, added: “This is Rangers v Hearts. One of the best fixtures in Scottish football. If I was still a Hearts player I’d be livid.”

No excuses

This is a debate you have to consider from both sides. From a purely Rangers perspective, this is obviously great news as we will not struggle to sell the tickets and will therefore have more fans in attendance.

As for Hearts, they have every right to be frustrated, but the SPFL want Hampden packed out and clearly do not have faith the Jam Tarts could fulfil their half of the bargain.

The Scottish League Cup may be fourth on the list of Rangers’ priorities heading into the campaign, behind the Scottish Premiership, Europa League and Scottish Cup, but it has taken on far more magnitude of late.

A poor start to the campaign has left the Gers playing catch-up under newly appointed manager Philippe Clement, who can land his first trophy in charge within a little over two months of his appointment.

Rangers’ players will have no excuses when they lock horns with Hearts in Edinburgh as they will be roared on by a sea of blue at Hampden.

If they use that to their advantage and overcome Hearts, a meeting with either Hibernian or Aberdeen will await in the final.

In other Rangers news, Clement must avoid making his first misstep after holding a meeting with a possible backroom staff member this week.