Fenlon slams ludicrous SPL post-split fixture shambles
Pat Fenlon has hit out at the “ludicrous” SPL post-split fixtures, which will see Hibs play their five games on four different days of the week. The team initially face two Sunday matches before playing on a Monday, Wednesday and Saturday in May. The supporters also face a 250-mile round trip on a Wednesday evening to play Aberdeen.
The former Bohs manager told Hibs TV: “It’s peculiar. I don’t know who has sat down and worked them out, but it’s crazy. It’s ludicrous, but you have to get on with it. We can only approach the games properly and make sure at the end of it we are still in the league.
“Saturday afternoon is football day in most people’s eyes but you’ve now got four different days and however many different kick-off times.”
Meanwhile Chairman Rod Petrie has issued a rallying call to the fans as the club announced an extension to the ‘Early Bird’ season ticket offer.
In an open message to supporters on the club’s official website, he said: “Your team needs you – it’s as simple as that.
“If we do not rally to the cause no-one else will. Supporters will help determine how good an end to the season we have and the shape of the team for next season. We had a catastrophic 2011 to add to the problems in 2010. We made mistakes, I made mistakes. I am sorry. We have paid for these mistakes. That was then, this is 2012.
“We face the business end of the season with a stronger management team and a stronger playing squad than we had on the opening day.”
“This is not the league campaign we wanted. However, a semi-final tie against Aberdeen on 14 April has the potential to take us to a Scottish Cup final for the first time since 2001. This could yet be the season that all Hibernian supporters talk about for years to come. How can we make it happen? Support the team.
“There are some who want to talk us into looking down not up, even trading failure in the league for success in the cup. Now is the time for clear heads and calm nerves. We can succeed in both.”
Earlier this week, Hibs announced the departure of director Fife Hyland at the end of the season, which has prompted another reshuffle, with executive director Scott Lindsay incorporating responsibility for Hyland’s commercial and communications operations. Lifelong supporter and season ticket holder Brian Houston has been appointed as a non-executive director, in a popular move with the fans who have criticised the club for a lack of genuine Hibs supporters on the board.
Houston said: “Since my debut on the East Terracing in 1954 and my first cup final in 1958 this club has been part of me and I am delighted and honoured to have chance to contribute what I can of my experience to the on-going development of Hibernian.”
Ahead of this week’s home game against Motherwell, the last fixture before the split, manager Fenlon has praised striker Garry O’Connor’s contribution against Inverness Caley on Sunday. He said: “We took Garry out of the equation for the past two or three weeks to get him a little bit fitter.
“He has worked on that himself and we’re hoping that from now until the end of the season he’ll be able to pick up a few goals for us. We’re at the stage of the season where we need him fit and scoring goals. Hopefully he can help us climb the table.”
Thankfully for Fenlon, the injury to winger Ivan Sproule who was carried off against Inverness is not as serious as initially thought.
“The good news is that Ivan’s injury is not as bad as we first feared it might be. He was obviously in a lot of pain when he came off the pitch, but fortunately the injury has responded to treatment and he could be back in training sooner rather than later.”
One player desperate to help the club avoid relegation is club captain Ian Murray, who was delighted to get 60 minutes in a 3-1 victory against St Mirren in a bounce game at East Mains Training Ground on Wednesday. The long term injury victim said “It was my first game since the Hearts match at the start of January and overall I’ve only played two games since November, So I’m happy to be back and I think it went OK. I felt a bit sluggish at times but it went well. I played for an hour and it is a start and a step forward.”
Former Manchester United winger Danny Galbraith also featured in the game which Hibs won with goals from David Wotherspoon, Sean O’Hanlon and Roy O’Donovan.