Gunners eye Easter Road

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SCOTTISH Rugby bosses are set to seek talks with Hibs about the possibility of re-locating Edinburgh Rugby to Easter Road.

And oval ball insiders were today insisting the Gunners could be the latest in a long line of rugby outfit's taking advantage of football's superior facilities as early as next season.

Colin McNeill, Hibs' commercial manager, today stopped well short of hinting at a done deal but admitted: "There may be a meeting scheduled between Hibernian and the SRU in the not too distant future."

McNeill was adamant that major concerns exist such as the quality of the playing surface being adversely affected for the passing style of play favoured by manager Tony Mowbray's side.

Mr McNeill added: "Our only concern does remain the same, that the pitch would not be up to hosting our SPL fixtures as well as reserve team and other matches, but it is a fundamental one."

However, rugby sources were more bullish that rental fees would eventually talk.

One source claimed that a decision had already been made for the Gunners to quit their home for the past two seasons at Murrayfield where the capacity of 67,800 overwhelms attendances of between 2000-3000.

Many feel the relative lack of atmosphere is turning fans away.

"Gunners will be out of Murrayfield soon and already a list of alternative club rugby venues has been drawn up for an inspection - namely Goldenacre, Inverleith, Myreside and Meggetland.

"That could purely be a courtesy step, though, because none of these club rugby grounds seem suitable for a variety of reasons. Certainly the indications are that Easter Road tops the list of preferred options," said the club source.

Edinburgh, then known as Reivers and an amalgam with the Borders, last played at Easter Road in 1998-99 when crowds of 2000 and 3000, respectively, were attracted to European Cup fixtures with Ebbw Vale and Toulouse.

Ironically, when Edinburgh faced a crunch qualifier against Ulster that season the match was switched back to Myreside since it was felt a more compact club rugby ground would enhance the team's chances of progressing in a match they eventually lost.

Scottish Rugby officials were today unavailable for comment.

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