Long-awaited return of fans as Hearts are told to prepare for lifting of all crowd restrictions

Hearts are preparing to welcome season ticket holders back to the Tynecastle after being told that all crowd restrictions will be lifted from August 9.

According to the latest information from the Joint Response Group, while there will social distancing limits imposed throughout the Premier Sports Cup group matches, and for the opening couple of Premiership games, but the Gorgie club anticipate a much-longed-for return to normality by the time the teams head into the knockout stage of the cup in mid August.

“For the first home game [against Cove Rangers on July 13] and for a friendly the following weekend we will have 2,000 fans in attendance,” said chief executive Andrew McKinlay

“For the second cup game and the first game of the season against Celtic it looks like being a few thousand more.”

Hearts told it will not be long before they can enjoy packed stands at Tynecastle as restrictions on crowd numbers are lifted. Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group

In those instances he said that Hearts intention would be to keep the full allocation for their own fans.

“Certainly from our perspective, we will not bring any away fans in until we have satisfied our season ticket holders – unless we're forced to.”

But McKinlay remains cautious about the numbers.

“It looks optimistic to me, but we are being told from August 9 it will be back to normal. Which seems incredible right now. That’s not what we were envisaging but it ties in with what Jason Leitch said last week. To be honest I will believe it when I see it. Right now it seems unbelievable but hopefully it is right.”

Ahead of schedule, the return of huge crowds to Gorgie will help the budget but McKinlay says it will also help energise the players.

“People don’t fully appreciate how it impacted the players last year. It was so strange and eerie, it was a bizarre atmosphere.

“Some players didn’t mind it, some probably liked it but most thrive on the crowds.

“The atmosphere we get at Tynecastle is incredible and we missed it and we are desperate to get people back inside the stadium again.

“From a financial standpoint we are prudent at budgeting. They are done on assumptions that aren’t as positive as what has been said. So that will all be a bonus for us in that perspective.

“To have a full house for the first derby would be fantastic.”

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