ALLY McCoist has criticised the "strange" decision to stage the Ramsdens Cup final at Easter Road and said that the game should be played at Celtic Park.

The Rangers manager said he was baffled that Hibernian's ground had been chosen for the April 6 encounter apparently without consultation with either the Ibrox club or Raith Rovers, the other finalists. Easter Road can only hold 20,421 whereas Parkhead's capacity is around 60,000, and McCoist said he sympathised with the Rangers supporters who seem certain to miss out on cup final tickets.

"I'd have maximised the situation and take it to the biggest stadium," he said. "If I am the managing director of Ramsdens [the cup sponsors] my input would have been 'take it to a 60,000 stadium; I want the Ramsdens name all over the place'. So it's a strange decision. Very strange. But we are where we are and we've not had an input into it so we will have to get on with it. I'm still delighted we are in the final but disappointed that all the Rangers fans who want to go to the game will not get a chance to.

"To my knowledge there's not been any dialogue between the clubs. I would have thought ourselves and Raith Rovers would have had an input to the venue. If the Scottish Cup final is at Celtic Park and if you're looking to maximise profits and maximise turnover and people going to the game, then it's a strange choice. I would have played it, if possible, at Celtic Park because if I am putting my Rangers' manager hat on I want as many people in the stadium as possible. We've got 36,000 season tickets and I would imagine we could get rid of a vast number of tickets; in that region if not more. I have no idea why they didn't do that."

The selection of another cup final venue - Celtic Park for the climax of the William Hill Scottish Cup in May - led to criticism for the Scottish Football Association for making the decision when there was the prospect of Celtic reaching the showpiece game and effectively having home advantage. McCoist was relaxed about that, though, and about his own ground, Ibrox, being picked to host both semi-finals.

Rangers' attempts to progress that far in the Scottish Cup begin when they face Airdrieonians in the third round at Ibrox this evening (7.45pm). When the two teams met in SPFL League 1 in August, Rangers won 6-0 at the Excelsior Stadium. The match ought to be straightforward enough for Rangers but McCoist is eager to make a more lasting impression in the Scottish Cup after the early-season embarrassment of going out of the League Cup to Forfar Athletic. Since that defeat, Rangers have won 13 consecutive league and Ramsdens Cup ties but there is a recognition the team will not get much respect unless they reach the latter stages of the Scottish Cup. When Rangers came up against to top-flight opposition last season, Dundee United at Tannadice, they immediately looked out of their depth and were beaten 3-0.

They have looked a much more impressive side this term but McCoist denied that he was itching to have another crack at SPFL Premiership opposition. "I would take home draws all the way to the final against lower league opposition," he said. "I'm not itching. It goes without saying the longer we're in the competition you would be expecting to face teams from the highest division and I'm very confident that will come. I would be hopeful and more confident with the squad this year. That said, we've still to earn the right to get there. Cups are full of surprises and shocks.

"One of the biggest results for us this year was Morton beating Celtic in the League Cup. I'm not being disrespectful to Celtic in any shape or form, because they are winning the league out of sight, they are doing really well, fantastically well in Europe, but that's what we feel we are facing every week. We're playing a Morton every week and it ain't easy. Although it is absolutely vital that we win the league and get out of the division, a cup run would give everyone a boost and a wee bit of reassurance that progress is being made and we're on our way back."

Ian Black is suspended having been dismissed in that last Scottish Cup tie at Tannadice. Rangers have no fresh injury worries but Dean Shiels, Ross Perry and Chris Hegarty remain unavailable.