Hearts’ stadium development plans have fallen around three weeks behind schedule but owner Ann Budge is keeping her fingers crossed that they will be given the go-ahead to get work underway at a planning meeting next month.
With all the background work completed, the club are hoping the October meeting of the city planners will rubber stamp the proposed works and allow them to start dismantling surrounding structures.
“We have had confirmation that the planning committee will definitely take place in October. I’m hoping we will get the green light and we’re ready to start after that. The first thing we’ll need to do is knock down all the buildings. That should take about six weeks. If we get the go-ahead then the objective is that by Christmas the site will be cleared and we’ll have relocated [the office staff and ticket office etc].
“Once we get the go-ahead we can commission some of the steel stuff but clearing the site between now and Christmas is the main objective to get it ready for building.”
When the plans were unveiled at the annual general meeting, the ambition was to have work on the replacement main stand completed by the start of next season, taking the capacity of the renovated ground to more than 20,000. And while the club have endeavoured to answer all the planners’ questions and addressed all outstanding issues, the process has been more protracted than Budge would have liked and has left them behind schedule.
“We have slipped probably three weeks behind. The start of the season is ambitious but we are working towards it being ready by the end of September.
“I have spoken in principle to the SPFL about delaying our first home game but I can’t do anything officially yet. When I mentioned it previously they said it has been done before so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be done.”
Speaking at the opening of the new Hearts Museum, Budge, pictured, confessed the ambitious stadium redevelopment has been all-consuming and she admitted that she had not realised the magnitude of the project she was taking on, but said her vision was always to deliver plans for a new stand and ensure that Tynecastle was fit for purpose moving forward.
“I knew I would have to look at it and prepare the ground. I don’t want to cut corners, I want to do it right. I’m pretty hands on. I have meetings every day, it’s been constant.”
Matters have been complicated further by the sell-out crowds, which have negated any notion of simply closing the main stand and carrying out the major works during the season.
“I’m reasonably comfortable that if we get the go-ahead in October, we’re ready to go.”