CRAIG Levein is never going to win a popularity contest within Scottish football, but when the Hearts manager vents, as he did yesterday, even those who don’t like him must tip their hat in admiration.

He accused SPFL bosses Neil Doncaster and Iain Blair of not caring about supporters, his own club, Aberdeen, the people of Glasgow, families and the Hampden pitch over their decision to stage both Betfred Cup semi-finals at the national stadium on the same day. Had Roy Keane been in the room, he may have felt it his duty to ask Levein to calm down.

Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, said his piece a few hours later and, while he didn’t miss his mark, his words were almost lost in the wake of his Edinburgh counterpart’s outburst.

Levein said: “In all my time in football, I have never seen such disregard for supporters in any situation. If you could find a way to inconvenience people, then this is the perfect way to do it. It’s a shambles, honestly.

“I’m angry. It’s a disaster for the supporters, particularly for us and Aberdeen. There is human stuff. [Hearts assistant coach] Austin MacPhee has spoken to a few of the players and they are frustrated.

“They want to enjoy the experience and they want to take their families to Hampden for a semi-final. If it is 7.45pm on a Sunday night that is not going to happen as kids won’t be going as they have school the next day.

“Every Hearts supporter, whether it be a mother and father taking their kids or grandparents taking their grandchildren, brothers or sisters, these matches are supposed to be family occasions. I’m not even going into other things which could be unmitigated disasters. You’ll have 100,000 people in Glasgow, not all drinking, but one or two will be.

“Anything could go wrong. You’ve got the pitch situation, possible damage to toilets, which has happened in the past. There is a list of things which could go wrong. If any of those things do go wrong, Scottish football will be tarnished by it. Why are we asking for trouble? It’s just madness.”

Hearts have one of the largest travelling supports in Scotland, renowned for making it to Hampden in large numbers when they reach finals and semi-finals. Levein fears a Sunday evening kick-off will prevent thousands from making the journey to Glasgow.

He said: “We have to ask for 50 per cent of the tickets for the Sunday night, that’s only fair. We have to give our supporters the opportunity to go. The fact is, it’s unlikely we will sell them all – we might only sell 15,000.

“But I’ll tell you something: this will fall squarely back at the feet of Neil Doncaster and Iain Blair. If the people don’t come, then that’s their fault. It’s nothing to do with the supporters and it’s nothing to do with us. It’s a joke of a decision.”

With Hearts due to travel to Celtic Park on November 3 on league duty, Levein insisted he would be more than happy to delay the semi-final tie for a week.

He said: “Here’s the thing: Our competitive advantage is Celtic playing on the Thursday night in Europe. We don’t have a midweek game [ahead of the semi-final] but I’d give that up now to swap the fixtures so we 
could get a memorable occasion at Hampden.

“I don’t care about the competitive advantage. I want our supporters to be there so it feels like we’ve got the backing of the Hearts fans.”

And then, of course, there is the thorny subject of playing one of the semi-finals away from Hampden.

Levein said: “Why are we contractually obliged to play at Hampden? They haven’t even asked to be released from this contract. Is that not the first thing you would do if you are trying to find an alternative?

“At least ask the question. Murrayfield could easily have accommodated one of these games. I will play anywhere but I want the Hearts supporters to be there in as big a number as possible and to enjoy the experience.”

McInnes described the treatment of their fans as “really unfair” and wondered why it always seemed to be Aberdeen punished the most.

McInnes said: “I’m not surprised because it seems to be the way time and time again. Any requests or complaints we have about that situation don’t seem to be working or affective.

“I’m hoping that everybody, while their first reaction may be ‘stuff it I’m not going’ or a retaliation to the league, it’s important we go there together with a huge support and try to get the result on the day.”

Good old Scottish football. It can’t please any of the people all of the time.