Hearts ‘haven’t ruled out postponing Tynecastle return’ says Ann Budge

The main stand at Tynecastle is being redeveloped. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The main stand at Tynecastle is being redeveloped. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Hearts have not ruled out postponing their return to Tynecastle, stating that a judgement call will be made by the middle of next week.

Manager Craig Levein had revealed that there is a Plan B in place if the work on the new main stand is not completed in time for them to play host to Kilmarnock on 5 November and, speaking to The Scotsman, club chairwoman Ann Budge confirmed that things are on ‘a knife edge’. She admitted that the back-up proposal may need to be initiated after the recent winds set back the tight works schedule, curtailing roofing works.

Ann Budge is having 'daily meetings' but admits there have been delays. Picture: SNS Group

Ann Budge is having 'daily meetings' but admits there have been delays. Picture: SNS Group

“I have had daily meetings with the contractors and we are absolutely still shooting for the fifth but there have been delays. Last weekend we had roofers scheduled to do various things but because of the high winds that didn’t happen. So, it is almost a case of assessing things one day at a time.”

The situation will be discussed in depth at today’s board meeting but there is a chance that the team may have to play the Killie game at BT Murrayfield, postponing their return to Tynecastle until 18 November, when Partick Thistle would be the guests.

The completion date has already been put back once before, following an error in ordering the seats, and that forced the club to stage three ‘home’ games at Murrayfield, including tomorrow’s clash with St Johnstone and next weekend’s head-to-head with Rangers. But Budge said that the initial agreement was, provisionally, for four matches, to give the club some leeway should it be needed.

“It’s not that I think the work won’t be done, I’m pretty confident it will be. We are still pushing for the fifth and everyone assures me we will make it,” said the majority shareholder, claiming that the on-site staff are still ‘working at 100mph’, with lots of shifts scheduled over the weekend to try to catch up.

But with more weather warnings for the next few days, Budge has acknowledged that may not be enough. “Will that affect anything? I just don’t know. If it doesn’t, then everything should be fine. We will take stock next week.”

If Hearts do decide to play the Killie game at Murrayfield, because of the international break they will have another two weeks to get things right.

“As it stands we know that a lot of the work will concertina in the last few days and because we are changing to unmanned turnstiles all the software still has to be tested rigorously.

“The last thing I want is 20,000 supporters unable to get into the stadium in good time. When we do come back into the stadium, I want it to be a success and a really enjoyable experience.”

It is understood that testing is due to start on Tuesday and could be a determining factor.

Budge added: “To be fair, I have to let everyone involved know as soon as I can. So, early to middle of next week, I will make a definitive decision. We all want to get back to Tynecastle on the fifth and we are working hard to make that happen but the last thing I want is to rush it and something goes wrong on the day.”