HIBERNIAN manager Jack Ross has hit out at the SPFL for risking player safety and the Premier Sports Cup final as a spectacle because of a ‘baffling’ fixture pile-up.

And he has also taken aim at the governing body for their ‘ridiculous’ decision not to grant Hibs an even split of tickets for the showcase against Celtic on December 19.

Ross’ side kick off a gruelling run of seven matches in less than four weeks in the build-up to the final when they travel to face Ross County tonight.

With a further four games over the festive period, the Easter Road outfit are due to play an incredible 12 games by January 3.

Ross questioned after Sunday’s stunning semi-final triumph over Rangers whether the governing body could look at rearranging games to ensure the finalists were not burnt out before a ball had even been kicked at Hampden.

Hibs play Dundee on the Tuesday before the Sunday final, whilst Celtic - who because of Europa League games face the same fixture congestion - travel to Ross County on the Wednesday.

Ross, however, has reported ‘zero appetite’ from the SPFL to consider changes to the schedule.

And he insists the Leith men will use the double snub to ‘galvanise’ themselves over an exhausting run going into the New Year.

He said: “Celtic have the same thing. Because of their European games they have just as congested a fixture schedule.

“So, it is not about seeking to gain an advantage, it is about trying to produce the best possible cup final.

“It is supposed to be a showcase - and it will be in terms of the teams involved in it, the supporters and the atmosphere generated. But it is not lending itself to the two teams playing getting the best possible preparation.

"I don’t think it happens very often when you have such a congested fixture schedule around a cup final.

“We have had no encouragement in terms of assistance, though, so we will be using it to galvanise us as we look forward to the challenge of the games ahead.

“I am not part of the discussions so I don’t know, but my opinion is that there is almost a flexing of muscle and a show of strong governance over fixture scheduling.

“Yet, when it comes to other stuff, the other aspects of the game that require strong governance, these same people are nowhere to be seen.

“But, in my opinion, you can't be selective in terms of how you choose to govern the game.

"Common sense would suggest that as both teams would like assistance then there might be something that could be done.

“But there appears to be zero appetite from the SPFL to take that into consideration.

"For me, it’s baffling. If you have all these clubs and as many managers all thinking the schedule is too busy, why would you not want to listen to them?

“I’m not saying that we are always right but you would think that listening to what we have to say is sensible, given that we are the ones tight in the heat of the game.”

Ross also admitted he has fears over the welfare of his players, given the risk of injury in such a jam-packed fixture list.

He added: “There has been an evolution in the game and there is much more information available, and if you asked those involved in the performance aspects of football clubs then they would probably put forward quite a forceful argument that there is a much higher risk of injury - and serious injury - during periods of high fixture congestion.

“And, if you look at that further and look at the work FIFPro are doing, looking into the demands on players at the top level, where they end up playing all year round, then it does take its toll.

“If you look at it scientifically, there is a fairly strong argument that it is not ideal.

“So, that goes beyond a manager moaning about things or one club’s perspective. It does seem surprising that that is discounted - not just the opinions but the facts behind it as well.”

With Ross revealing he was also left frustrated by the way some things were handled during Hibs’ coronavirus outbreak, which has left them with rearranged games against County and Livingston, he is determined to turn the experience into a positive.

He said: “There’s no point in me expending energy on complaining about it, other than making the point about how it should have been dealt with more sensibly.

“Because we need to make sure we approach the period as positively as we can.

“I keep saying it, but we’ve got a really good product in Scotland, but I just think how we go about showing it in the best possible light is baffling at times.

“I don’t think I’m the only person that thinks that. I think a lot of people have the same opinion, other than sometimes those who govern the game.”

Meanwhile, Ross has has been left scratching his head at the SPFL’s decision to allocate Hibs just 17,500 tickets for next month’s final against Celtic.

He went on: “Historically, we are a club that has taken huge numbers to cup finals and would sell the allocation for the cup final, without a doubt.

“We have the historic evidence to back that up.

“The counter argument that will be offered is that we only took 10,000 on Sunday.

“Again, historically, I’ve watched a lot of the League Cup and it’s never a competition that has generated big crowds in semi-finals, including those that feature the Old Firm.

“So, the argument that that should reflect on the numbers you get for the final is not valid, I don’t think.

“For us not to have the opportunity to have an equal share of the tickets for the final is ridiculous.

“We have shown as a football club we would absolutely have sold that allocation, given our history of selling in the numbers we have for cup finals.

“Again, it appears there’s nothing we can do about it.

“So, we talk about it galvanising us and motivating us as a club to make sure that we are successful over the next month."