HEARTS owner Ann Budge has revealed the club will explore the possibility of leaving Tynecastle – but any decision will be made by the supporters.
Budge admitted in a BBC interview that it “might be that it’s a more cost-effective solution to actually move” from Tynecastle rather than find money to seriously upgrade the “neglected” main stand, although remedial and safety work has been taking place.
But the Hearts chairwoman, who will hand over the club to supporters when her investment is paid back in full, later clarified that no decision was imminent.
In a letter to fans, she wrote: “For the avoidance of doubt, there are no plans to exit Tynecastle. Firstly, there is no money either to develop the stadium or to build a new stadium.
Secondly, any decision regarding the future of our stadium will be taken, not by me, but by the supporters.
“What I do believe is necessary is that a full and comprehensive study should be carried out within the next 12-18 months to explore the different options open to us for the ongoing development of our club, given the limitations of our current stadium.
“In terms of any long-term business plan for the club, it would be madness not to look at options.
“Do I want to move from Tynecastle? Personally speaking, absolutely not!”
The issue of the club’s home has been a talking point for years. Former owner Chris
Robinson announced plans to rent Murrayfield and sell Tynecastle in 2004 in a bid to clear huge debts.
The subsequent regime under Vladimir Romanov mooted the possibility of moving to a new stadium after ambitious but detailed plans to develop the main stand failed to get off the ground. Budge also stressed that promotion remained the priority despite admitting to the BBC that falling short would not render the season a “complete failure”.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
Hearts moved nine points ahead in the Scottish Championship with a 2-0 victory over Rangers on Saturday, to continue their unbeaten league record since Budge took them out of administration with the backing of the Foundation of Hearts fans’ group. Budge wrote: “Please be in no doubt that every single person involved in the club is doing everything in their power to try to achieve promotion. It is our No 1 objective.
“However, if for whatever reasons, we don’t achieve this, I will absolutely not be saying the season has been a failure.
“We have already put in place the necessary foundations to ensure the club returns to its rightful position in Scottish football; not least our focus on youth development and improved coaching methods.
“I have always said, there is no ‘quick fix’ to all of Hearts’ challenges and that we must concentrate on doing things right to ensure a safe and sustainable future for our club.
“Am I pushing hard for promotion? Absolutely!”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS