Inverness CT v Crusaders: Irn Bru Cup semi-final timing 'will cost us money'

Inverness CT chairman Graham Rae
Graham Rae says Caley Thistle have lost money despite reaching the semi-final

Inverness Caledonian Thistle claim that scheduling their Irn Bru Cup semi-final on a Sunday evening has ended hopes of a money-spinning occasion.

The Scottish Championship club will host Northern Irish side Crusaders on 18 February, with a 17:15 GMT kick-off, and the match is live on BBC Alba.

"The kick-off time makes it extremely difficult for the club to market a semi-final that would normally attract significant interest," chairman Graham Rae said in an open letter to the Scottish Professional Football League.

"An evening kick-off on a Sunday in the Highlands may suit BBC Alba, but it certainly does not suit the supporters of either club.

"Given the challenges facing life in the Championship, the arrangements for this cup competition have been less than satisfactory.

"We have lost income so far and had hoped that a semi-final would redress this situation.

Crusaders' Dave Cushily (left) celebrates scoring against Dundee United
Crusaders knocked holders Dundee United out of the Irn Bru Cup in the quarter-finals

"This now is not going to happen, which is hugely disappointing."

The Challenge Cup, traditionally for clubs outside Scotland's top flight, has introduced teams from Northern Ireland, Wales and, most recently, Republic of Ireland.

Welsh champions The New Saints will host Dumbarton in the other semi-final, with the Championship outfit travelling to Oswestry on 17 February.

With Caley Thistle's visitors being the Northern Ireland Football League leaders, there is a possibility of a first final with no Scottish club involved.

Talking about the kick-off date and time, Rae said: "Although I do not anticipate that there is any chance of changing this, I felt that, on behalf of Inverness Caledonian Thistle, I must write you and express our great disappointment at these arrangements."

He added that he hoped "that the arrangements for next year's tournament, should it go ahead, are significantly more advantageous to clubs and supporters".

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