Hearts poll fans on leaving Tynecastle

Hearts have paved the way for a possible move from Tynecastle, their home for the past 125 years, by launching a survey of supporters' opinions about alternative venues.

The questionnaire, which is accessible from this morning on the club's official website, allows fans to opt for Tynecastle as their preferred option. But one of the aims of the survey, it is understood, is to prepare supporters for a move which the board of directors believe is becoming increasingly preferable on economic grounds.

Hearts are anxious to stress that this consultation exercise is very different from the situation the club was in seven years ago, when then chief executive Chris Robinson planned to sell Tynecastle and play home games at Murrayfield, home of the Scottish Rugby Union.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Club sources insist that any new ground would be wholly or jointly owned by Hearts, and that supporters will play a key role in deciding where the ground is and what facilities will be on offer there.

Nonetheless, after years in which the board, under the guidance of majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov, have been working on a planned redevelopment and expansion of Tynecastle, the questionnaire will come as a shock to many fans.

The online survey, consisting of around 40 questions, will run until 1 July. The opinions gleaned from it will then be used to inform what the club is calling "a joint study between the City of Edinburgh Council and Hearts to look at potential redevelopment of Tynecastle and possible alternative development options elsewhere in Edinburgh".

Romanov's plans for the revamping of the Gorgie ground have already been significantly downgraded once in the light of adverse economic conditions, from a rebuilding of Tynecastle and a thorough renovation of the surrounding area, to the construction of a new main stand. Now, the preferred view within the club is that a new venue elsewhere is far more likely to generate the revenue the heavily indebted club requires.

Hearts have estimated that the cost of building a new, bigger main stand at Tynecastle would be in excess of 20 million. The cost of constructing a new, 30,000-seater stadium would be somewhere between 30m and 45m. Sources suggest that the latter option would be preferable because, in addition to the extra money generated by a capacity more than 10,000 greater than the present ground, other facilities within the new venue could produce revenue far exceeding Tynecastle's capabilities.

The survey will be used as a guide to which facilities are likely to be popular, with options including a cinema, a bar and restaurants. Concerts are another possibility, while the involvement of the council could lead to Edinburgh Rugby using a new ground as their home venue.

Edinburgh currently play at Murrayfield, where they are experiencing an even more acute version of the problem which would have confronted Hearts - the 67,000-seat venue is far too large for their crowds. Hearts will insist, however, that if any other sport is to be played at a new ground, football will take priority. After Robinson's planned move led to mass protests, the club wants to make it clear that the survey of fans' opinions is a key part of any possible move, and that this time, those opinions will be listened to.