sport

Strong second tier 'a benefit'

Football finance expert Neil Patey believes the presence of Rangers and Hearts in the Scottish Championship will benefit Hibernian as they bid to bounce back to the top flight.

Hibs were relegated from the Scottish Premier League after losing a two-legged play-off against Hamilton, meaning both Edinburgh clubs and one half of the Old Firm will be in the second tier next season.

Rangers are the favourites to win the division, while Hearts are second favourites to go up from a league that only has two promotion places.

But the fact all three are in the same division could, Patey feels, provide a benefit in terms of increased gate revenues.

"In the normal chain of events you wouldn't have Rangers and you wouldn't have Hearts there so you'd have one Premier League club playing in a league with much lower attendances," he said.

"Actually having those clubs there will probably go a long way to, not totally, but partially compensating for the lost attendances compared to your average Premier League attendance."

Sky Sports pundit Neil McCann, who represented Hearts and Rangers during his playing career, feels the task facing Hibs manager Terry Butcher will be a substantial one regardless of the playing budget he is given.

"Terry Butcher has not only got a job on his hands to lift morale, he also has to rebuild the squad," he said.

"What finances is he going to be given in the Championship? Hearts don't want to be down there and Rangers don't want to be down there either.

"You throw Falkirk and Queen of the South, who had good seasons last season, into the mix and it's going to be a really tough league.

"I feel that Hibs are going to be right up against it."