Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes today hailed the fan power that forced the SPFL to change the controversial Betfred Cup semi-final schedule.
McInnes reckons the body completely underestimated the supporters who made their voices heard to get the semis changed.
In an unprecedented move the SPFL last week confirmed both clashes would be played at Hampden on the same day.
Aberdeen were initially set to face Rangers at the national stadium at noon on Sunday October 28 with holders Celtic playing Hearts hours later at 7.45pm.
The Dons and Hearts both slated the decision and supporters of both clubs also mobilised to vent their frustration.
The Evening Express, in conjunction with the Edinburgh Evening News, launched a campaign to get both semi-finals changed.
The SPFL moved the Dons semi to 4.30pm at Hampden with Celtic and Hearts switched to 1.30pm at Murrayfield.
Aberdeen have requested a 50-50 allocation of the tickets and will push to get that split.
And McInnes has called for the Red Army to descend en masse for the showdown.
McInnes said: “Aberdeen and Hearts have been working extremely hard together in the background.
“What it (the change) tells you is that the people who made the decision last week underestimated the supporters.
“Supporters are now rightly being considered better.
“They are the life blood of the game.
“The public safety was a real issue with the two games.
“Trying to squeeze both games into the same day at the same venue was always going to be problematic.
“The way with the public reaction, the journalists’ reaction, the professionals’ reaction from people within the game – it has all been the same.
“There were other options worth considering and I am glad that has now been the case.
“The semi-finals are showcase events with four big clubs that carry big support so it was important we try to maximise both games.
“It now sits better for everybody and makes it easier for our supporters to get to the game.”
Aberdeen’s representatives at the SPFL meeting last Thursday insisted they were unhappy with the semi-final arrangements.
Despite the Dons and Hearts voicing their concerns, the SPFL went ahead with the same-day semi-finals at Hampden. The noon kick-off created major logistical problems for Dons fans to get to the game on time.
The first train from the Granite City into Glasgow did not arrive until after the noon kick-off.
There were also safety concerns having both semis at the same ground on the same day. The Scottish Police Federation’s general secretary Calum Steele said it would be “idiotic” to stage both games in Glasgow on the same day.
McInnes said: “It is great that the two clubs (Celtic and Rangers) are still playing in Europe.
“However, there was every chance they would both be involved in the semi-final so this was something that was maybe in the offing for the last few weeks.
“There were clear problems everybody was going to face with having both games on the same day in Glasgow.
“I do think that they have now come to the right conclusion.
“They are still not going to get everything right as I see Celtic are not happy and I understand that point of view.
“If we had been told to play in Edinburgh it was far better from what was initially decided.
“With the football side of things we would play the game anywhere we were told to play.
“The biggest concern for the club was to get it to be far fairer for our supporters – to allow any supporter who wants to be at the semi-final the chance to be there.
“We have that opportunity now with the later kick-off as there are no real safety issues with the two games on the Sunday.”
Aberdeen will face Rangers in a Hampden cup showdown for the first time since the 2000 Scottish Cup final (4-0 loss).
The Reds are determined to get a 50-50 split of briefs and McInnes has called for the Red Army to mobilise.
He said: “The onus on our supporters now is to try to get right behind the team and get as many of them at Hampden as possible.
“Now that it is a 4.30 kick-off hopefully our supporters really respond and we get as many as we can down there.
“That we show a real strength and solidarity for the club and hopefully we can make it a good day.
“Hopefully we can now look forward to the semi-final without all the debate and hoo-ha.”