Budge: Celtic complaint is 'nonsense' and 'fatuous'
Hearts owner Ann Budge has dismissed the Hoops' claims over Murrayfield's neutrality.
Hearts owner Ann Budge has dismissed Celtic's complaints over the neutrality of Murrayfield as a venue for the League Cup semi-final as "nonsense" and "fatuous".
On Wednesday, Brendan Rodgers, the Celtic manager, hit out at the "unfair" process which resulted in his team being switched from Hampden to play the Jam Tarts at the home of Scottish rugby.
The Scottish champions followed up on their manager's comments by blasting the SPFL board's "irrational" and "discriminatory" call not to hold a ballot to decide which last four was moved to the capital.
Speaking exclusively to STV, Budge has rejected Celtic's point of view, insisting the eventual outcome has been the best possible for not just her club but for Scottish football.
"It is of course a neutral venue," Budge said.
"We played four games there at the beginning of last season and Celtic, as we all know, have also played at Murrayfield, I think the same number of games, if not more.
"Our team has changed drastically, less than half the team have experience of playing at Murrayfield and they won't necessarily be in the side when we do play.
"So I think to suggest it's not a neutral venue is quite frankly a nonsense.
"If you look at the other side of it, if we then assume Hampden therefore would be a neutral venue, I think I have a very strong argument that says Celtic have been there a heck of a lot more than Hearts have unfortunately.
"Honestly I think it's a fatuous argument, I don't think it holds water."
Budge revealed she didn't accept Celtic's call for a draw to establish which tie stayed at Hampden and which was to be played in Edinburgh.
"I didn't accept it," she added. "The SPFL board asked for representation from all four clubs, giving their view on it.
"I genuinely believe that as Hearts were drawn out first, followed by Celtic, surely that would normally mean we were the team to play on the Saturday.
"I was told what would override that would be any police and broadcast considerations.
"It has since been clarified that there is no rule that says that happens.
"I personally believe it's the popular assumption that is what happens, the first two teams play on the Saturday and the second two on the Sunday.
"Clearly, in this instance, it is the Saturday game which had to be reorganised.
"I contended that we had already had the draw and didn't need a second one."
Budge said the initial assumption by the SPFL that the Hampden contract was a binding one ensured the handling of the fixture conflict situation got off to a stuttering start, but praised those involved for finding a solution eventually.
"We got off to a very bad start," she continued.
"I think it could have been handled differently from the outset. That initial assumption, that it couldn't be done any other way, is the one I challenged.
"The potential risks to show Scottish football in a bad light were huge.
"I think it was essential we looked at every option, which included being released from that contract clause.
"We started with a poor assumption but once the issues were discussed everybody pulled out all the stops to find a solution."