DCSIMG

Supporters split as talks begin on possible move

Ian Watt, via e-mail: "Chris Robinson tends to dwell more on the non-conformity of the Tynecastle pitch dimensions rather than the massive hole in the club’s balance sheet as the main reason in considering quitting Tynecastle.

Neil, Gilmerton: "It’s about time both teams looked to the future, if it’s financially beneficial for both of them. We would be stupid not to consider it."

D Lennon: "I have been watching Hibs at Leith since I was born. I’m happy where my team are. I live next to Straiton but I still wouldn’t be happy with the move."

Graham Watters, Mountcastle: "Moving stadium is a waste of time. Hibs have a perfectly good stadium and have no reason to move."

Dave, Leith: "I would welcome the idea of a shared stadium if Hearts did not have an input for the colour scheme, we don’t want a pink stadium like Tynecastle!"

Don Thomson, Oxgangs: "There’s far too much history between the two clubs for it to happen. I won’t be renewing my season ticket."

James, Peebles: "Football is evolving financially and it’s excellent that the Edinburgh clubs are too. Scottish football needs a challenge from the Capital."

Nikki, Edinburgh: "It’s a brilliant idea - a brand new stadium and reduced debts giving both teams more money to compete with the Old Firm."

Eric Myles, Mid Calder: "It’s a great idea. Fans must bury the hatchet and look to the future. It will help both clubs in the long run."

D Flockhart, Liberton: "I think it’s a great idea and it should have been done years ago. It might give Hibs a better idea of how it’s done on the park."

Graham Loanhead: "Build two identical main stands one for each team with their own sets of facilities."

Martin MacGill, Portobello: "I would rather not share with Hibs but as long as it’s 50/50 and Hearts’ finances improve and the transport is sound I would live with it."

S King, East Calder: "I’m a staunch Jambo but it’s about time we woke up to reality. Both clubs are in debt and this is the only way forward."

Fiona, Broxburn: "It will clear the debt but won’t solve all the attendance problems."

A Walkling, Duddingston: "The move would make financial sense for both clubs and help close the gap on the Old Firm. It would be sad to leave Tynecastle though as it has many great memories."

Tim Smith, Edinburgh: "If this move was to go ahead I think both teams would lose some of the tradition and rivalry that exists now. Gorgie just wouldn’t be the same without Tynecastle."

Aldo, Edinburgh: "If the Jambos leave they will lose my support along with a lot of others."

Paul Reid: "I have missed seven games home and away for Hearts in the last ten years but I would not set foot in a shared stadium."

Liz, Swanson: "Is someone going to let the fans know, who all contributed 100 each or more in some cases, towards redeveloping the ground, if they are going to be refunded on the sale of Easter Road, although why they want to sell off a UEFA approved ground is beyond me."

Chris McConville: "The proposed ground share between Hibs and Hearts is a bad idea. The supporters of both clubs do not want this to happen and considering the loyalty that has been shown by them, when for most seasons both clubs have been particularly average, I feel that they need to be told the complete truth about how long these discussions have been going on. There is no need for Hibs to move from Easter Road. I feel sympathy towards Hearts and their support as it would appear that for whatever reason Tynecastle does not meet UEFA regulations. I appeal to the money men involved to show common sense and remember that it is the fans who are the life and soul of these famous clubs and they are running the risk of losing them."

Colin Rich: "Hibs must stay at Easter Road. If we can only attract 5000 for a Scottish Cup replay against Dunfermline at Easter Road how many would we get at Straiton? Short-term fix but long-term disaster."

Kevin Mulvey, Gorebridge: "I think it’s a great idea as Scottish football as well as football all around the world is in a cash decline at the moment. If Tynecastle and Easter Road can be sold for a reported 50million and a new one built for 20m it would seem to make sense. Celtic and Rangers are both feeling the pinch at the moment as well so I think the fans of both Hearts and Hibs should look at what’s best for the clubs and show them full support on this matter. I’ll be sorry to see Hearts leave Tynecastle and Hibs fans will be sorry to leave Easter Road but Chris Robinson and Rod Petrie are going in the right direction to try to keep up with the Old Firm. Both Dundee clubs should consider this."

M Leary: "An excellent idea that should have been done years ago. Lots of teams have moved from their spiritual homes and none of them I would bet regret it. Football won’t wait for Hibs and Hearts. The gap is getting wider every season and they have to catch up fast if they have ambitions to be back at the top. Lazio and Roma in Italy have some of the most partisan fans in Europe and they detest one another but they still share a stadium. They have their own changing rooms and the fans have their own ends of the ground, it’s that simple."

Bob McKenzie: "As an Aberdeen supporter with friends and family in both camps I find the idea of ground sharing to be an excellent proposal. Anyone who thinks otherwise has blinkered vision and doesn’t realise the benefits to both teams."

Greig Quinn, Bonnyrigg: "I think a ground share is a good idea as Hibs could clear their debts and still have money in the bank to become the third force again and possibly even challenge the Old Firm. I would love to see big European nights like against AEK Athens again and with the money we could earn from this plan it could well happen again."

Mike Burns: "Once again the idea of Hibs moving to Straiton rears its ugly head. This time though, it’s in conjunction with Hearts. It already seems to me be a done deal and if this is indeed the case, both Petrie and Farmer could go down in history as the two men who killed off Hibs Football club. There is absolutely no point in moving to the outskirts of the City with the consequence of alienating a large part of the support and playing in front of maybe 5000 fans. The Hibs board must stop this dangerous idea before it goes any further."

Daniel Cordiner "As one of many fans who gave Hibs (not pledged or debentured) 100 when asked to stand up and be counted and show commitment to staying at Easter Road I expected Rod Petrie to listen and not just pay lip service to the fans, his customers and the lifeblood of our football club. We, the supporters, are the people he should realise that he is accountable to. With all due respect to St Johnstone, Rod Petrie only needs to look to Perth and the ‘atmosphere’ at McDiarmid Park for a glimpse into his vision for the future of our club if it was to be moved to Straiton."

Bruce Gorrie, Leith: "The soul of Hibs is in Leith and the soul of Leith is in Hibs. Assets may be stripped, players may be sold but the soul of a club, if relinquished, is lost forever. The people of Leith have seen their identity stripped, their traditional employment run down, the local property priced beyond their means and their pride and individuality replaced by the tyranny of the wealthy. I have loved this club since childhood and bleed green, but I will not, and could not, support it if it became merely a brand displaced from its roots."

Ritchie, Dunbar: "Although I support the proposal I have to ask why the SPL have a problem with Falkirk ground sharing but not Hearts and Hibs?"

Jimmy, Wester Hailes: "As a Hearts man for many years I will be gutted to leave Tynecastle. It won’t be the same and I’m sorry but I am not renewing my season ticket."

Stevie B (Jambo) Oxgangs: "Hearts and Hibs should ground share. If we don’t we will end up four to five points behind the Old Firm every season for evermore. It’s time to work together and put up a challenge to the Old Firm. I am fed up getting gubbed every time the Old Firm visit Edinburgh."

Iain, Leith: "If we had presidential elections to say who ran our clubs like Barcelona have just had the fans would never vote for the guys wanting to share."

David, Edinburgh: "I don’t think that Hearts or Hibs should share. The whole Leith and Gorgie tradition would be lost forever. Hearts would be better removing four or five rows of seats to expand the pitch."

James, Rosyth: "I would rather Hearts stayed in Gorgie but if they do ground share with Hibs it only makes sense that the capacity would have to be at least 30,000."

Jon, Edinburgh: "It’s all about greed and more money for the fat cats. They don’t care about history or that the very heart of Gorgie and Leith would be ripped out."

Geoff Stenhouse, Abbeyhill: "Where are the figures being branded about coming from? I think it maybe the same people who estimated the parliament costs - pie in the sky!"

Paul Craik, Kirknewton: "Being a Hibs supporter I have to wonder that if a ground share does happen, which I agree would be financially beneficial to both clubs, what would be the next step to save money be? A Mercer-type merger? I don’t trust Mr Robinson at all and I’d rather we remained at Easter Road."

Stan, Leith: "As a regular at Hibs games I will never set foot at a ground at Straiton. Thousands more will do likewise."

Harry, Musselburgh: "It is about time that the people at the helm of Hibs told the truth and told the fans that they don’t want to be at Easter Road. I also think they should have consultations with the fans and by that I mean the season ticket holders."

Stevie, Musselburgh: "A move away from Easter Road and Tynecastle would be a financial disaster. Not for the clubs but for the businesses around Easter Road and Tynecastle."

Charlie, Edinburgh: "It will help Hibs get out the mire. We’re not a Leith club we are from Edinburgh and always have been. Stop being blinkered guys."

Lynsay Taylor, Prestonpans: "I don’t see why we should move to suit hearts, remember we are big rivals so it would never work."

Jim Blackwell, Leith: "The atmosphere at Easter Road is second to none and I would be devastated if we moved. There is nothing wrong with our stadium and If Hibs want the fans’ views they should ballot the 6000 season ticket holders."

Kevin Brodie, Parkhead: "The decision has already been made. I’ll not be renewing my season ticket when we move to corporate fantasy land."

Craig, Colinton: "This will cost Hibs thousands of supporters. The move will not generate new Hibs supporters."

Billy McLellan, Edinburgh: "This is a property deal and nothing else. When did Farmer ever care about the football team?"

Tam, Leith: "If fans allow this there will be a merger within five years. The greedy money grabbers deny it now but will change their minds when it suits."

Stuart Downie, Edinburgh: "I think a move to Straiton will be good for both teams. The money generated from the sale of our present grounds may allow better quality players to be brought in and then you might see both teams competing with the Old Firm every season."

Alexander, Meadowbank. "As a Hibs supporter, I read an article earlier this year about Hibs and Hearts sharing at Meadowbank. What has happened to that idea as it would be far more acceptable than a move to the back of beyond (there is nothing out there). If we must move then so be it but not out at Straiton no way!"

Colin Simpson, Leith: "Judging by the reaction of both sets of supporters Hearts fans are more receptive to this idea than Hibs. Why should we bail them out? Remember they once tried to put us out of existence."

Jake Johnstone, Livingston: "I have supported Hibs for 47 years and was shocked to hear that it was even being discussed. However, I do understand that if they want to compete with the bigger clubs then they have to ground share. They really haven’t been competing because of money problems and this should help. I would support them wherever they went."

David Brown, Shandon: "As a life long Hearts supporter I have spent the best part of 34 years watching my local team and regard Tynecastle as very much my second home on match days. I am sure that there are many supporters in Leith that feel the same way about their team playing at Easter Road. Some years ago when Wallace Mercer attempted to relocate the club I wrote in these columns that the only people who mattered at any football club were the supporters. What other business would neglect to consult its key customer base before putting forward such a contentious proposal? As we all know football clubs are not like normal businesses. Both Hearts and Hibs play a huge part in the success of the local community with their past exploits on the pitch established firmly in the folklore of Gorgie and Leith. The clubs run the risk of alienating their fan base even further if this move goes ahead with little to recommend it to the casual supporter who has deserted the game for other pursuits over the last few years. With no proper amenities close at hand and public transport links to Straiton poor it would be in the best interests of both Hearts and Hibs to finish developing Tynecastle and Easter Road and continue the rivalry across the City that has existed for over 100 years."

Arthur Valentine, Abbeyhill: "When Leither Tom Farmer intervened to stop Wallace Mercer taking over Hibs, and thereby fell heir to all of Hibs’ assets, he said he did it because of his Leith roots and wanting to preserve a vital part of Leith culture and community through a geographical link. Hibs, with a fraction of the Hearts’ debt, are under no pressure to move. They have a stadium, which, after the expenditure of 14million, qualifies to host European competition. If it ain’t broke, why fix it? If successive Hibs’ boards had nurtured young talent instead of selling it and making do with mediocre, past it, foreigners, out to squeeze a last few years’ wages, the club might have been able to, as David Hardie says "compete, year in, year out". How long before Riordan and Brown are being touted around?"

Martin Docherty, St Louis, USA: "As an exiled and lifelong Hibs supporter, the news of a proposed ground-sharing plan comes as a shock. Especially in light of the major investments made in improving Easter Road. While I understand the economic attractiveness of a combined facility, moving both teams away from their traditional strongholds to a single facility in Straiton is, at best, a short-term solution. The inevitable erosion of the fan base will undoubtedly lead to calls for the merger of both clubs for ‘economic’ reasons. Is this the ultimate goal? Edinburgh can and should do everything in it’s power to keep both teams within the City boundaries. The City without Hibs and Hearts would be like Glasgow without Celtic and Rangers."

John Burns, Broomhall: "Tom Farmer became involved in the magnificent campaign to prevent Wallace Mercer’s attempt to wipe Hibs off the map on the basis that our club was an integral and fundamental part of the local community. I now ask him to reflect on that promise which, I would suggest, is no less relevant today than it was in 1990. No one can deny that economic imperatives are driving this initiative, but a move to Straiton has to be measured against the impact this will have on the community of Leith and on the many supporters from elsewhere in the City, and beyond, who will feel a sense of betrayal if this move goes ahead. It cannot be beyond the business acumen of Mr Farmer and the current Hibs board to find an alternative which will allow us to stay at Easter Road. I urge Mr Farmer to ditch this idea now."

Gavin, Reading: "Although I’d rather Hearts stay at Tynecastle I disagree with the people who say that the fans wouldn’t travel out to Straiton. My local Division One team, Reading FC, moved from their much-loved inner city Elm Park to the Madjeski Stadium next to the motorway. This move coincided with the club’s relegation to the Second Division but the crowds actually increased. The better facilities, increased support and revenue have helped Reading get back to Division One and challenge for promotion to the Premiership last season. The same arguments were used initially by Reading fans - bad transport links (believe me they are terrible), no pubs near the ground etc. These were overcome as Reading FC buses ran shuttles out to the stadium on match days. Everyone drinks in the town centre before going up to the ground or in the bars built into the stand...so no problem. The same could happen in Edinburgh."

The big stories first

MONDAY, JUNE 16

WE reveal Hearts and Hibs have agreed to discuss "in principle" sharing a purpose-built stadium on the outskirts of the Capital. Both clubs have different reasons for the bold plan. Hearts know that the Tynecastle pitch is not up to UEFA specification, while Hibs are keen to unlock the capital from their Easter Road site. The plan would ultimately create a 25,000-seater stadium with artificial turf - all on a site which Hibs looked at ten years ago.

TUESDAY, JUNE 17

IT emerges that former Hibs owner Sir Tom Farmer has a share in the site at Straiton which the clubs are interested in - but may be willing to sell the land to them for 1. This would clear the way for Hearts and Hibs to sell off the sites of their current stadia, netting up to 50 million and wiping out their mounting debts, believed to total some 30m.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 18

STRAITON PARK Ltd, the firm controlling the land envisaged for the shared stadium, admits it is prepared to gift the land for the project. Supporters are divided over the wisdom of the controversial plan, and the Evening News attracts countless comments from fans, via e-mail, fax, text messages and letter, all eager to make their voices heard.

 
 
 

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