Hearts prepare for fan protest outside Tynecastle as Ann Budge urges supporters to stay away
The Edinburgh club’s Scottish Cup exit to Brora Rangers on Tuesday night angered many supporters, some of whom intend to demonstrate their outrage this weekend.
There have been calls for manager Robbie Neilson’s removal and owner Ann Budge has also endured some stinging criticism after events in the Highlands.
Budge today issued a statement asking fans not to gather in groups outside the stadium before this weekend’s game against Queen of the South.
Scottish Government laws prohibit large gatherings of people due to the Covid 19 pandemic and Hearts are concerned about the impact a large protest might have.
Budge said: “The Board, management and staff fully understand and share the anger and strength of feeling being expressed by our fans following what was a totally unacceptable performance and result on Tuesday evening.
“We can only echo the comments made by Robbie Neilson after the game. He was stunned and embarrassed, as were we all, by our exit at this stage of the Scottish Cup. It was, as the manager said, completely unacceptable and fell way below the standards that we set and expect at Hearts.
“We completely respect the right of any and all of our supporters to make their voices heard and feelings known in a peaceful and law-abiding manner. However we are aware, from social media, that there is the suggestion of a fans protest at Tynecastle Park on Saturday prior to our Championship fixture with Queen of The South.
“We do not need to remind anyone that we are still in the midst of worldwide pandemic during which our focus has at all times been on ensuring the safety and security of everyone at Tynecastle.
“Nor do we need to remind you that it is unlawful for crowds to gather in public places due to current Covid restrictions. We must, therefore, urge all fans, in the strongest possible manner, not to congregate at Tynecastle Park on Saturday.
“Everyone associated with the Club feels let down. However the most important thing now is to bounce back. At the start of this season every single one of us agreed that, above all else, this year was about winning the Championship and getting back to where we belong.
“We are on the cusp of achieving that objective. Let’s not risk success now by allowing frustration and anger to knock us off course. We still have a job to finish. Keep safe!”
Hearts sit 16 points clear at the top of the Championship table and could take another step nearer automatic promotion by beating Queens. However, discontent among fans has been mounting this season.
Tuesday night’s defeat against the Highland League champions was exacerbated by the fact Brora had not played competitively for ten weeks.
Their division was suspended in mid-January and they only resumed training on March 9. Their 2-1 victory made headlines across Britain and Hearts officials are now dealing with the fallout.