Easter Road put in the frame as new home for Gunners

Share this article

EDINBURGH RUGBY could be making their studmarks on Hibs’ turf next season, it emerged today.

In acknowledging meetings were taking place with a view to moving the rugby team from Meadowbank and relocating under the Easter Road cantilevers for the second time in six years, Gunners’ chief executive Jim McKenzie said all options remained open.

"We are still talking with Hibernian," confirmed McKenzie, who added: "There are, however, all sorts of issues associated with any move like that."

Nevertheless, for those Gunners fans hungering for a more crowd-friendly arena in which to watch their heroes - albeit more wins than losses have been recorded at home since Meadowbank was adopted as a base in 2002 - McKenzie did hold out some hope.

"We have had discussions [with Hibs]. There are some possibilities although while it might be attractive to us, we are not in a position where we have come to a decision."

McKenzie also made it clear that sights would be set high in any switch arrangements which might materialise.

"Meadowbank is our default position. But we are always considering options until someone makes us a better offer," he said.

Hibs said the football ground were in the loop regarding Edinburgh Rugby’s 11th-hour search for an arena in which to put down roots in 2004-05.

"We are aware that Edinburgh Rugby are evaluating where they will play next season as part of their on-going development strategy," an Easter Road spokesman said.

If Edinburgh and Hibs do strike an accommodation then the rugby team would be returning to a venue where they conducted their 1998 European Cup campaign.

Then, Edinburgh defeated Ebbw Vale at Easter Road as well as going down narrowly to Toulouse.

Subsequently, their final group decider with Ulster was switched to Myreside to achieve a more intensive atmosphere for a rugby crowd at that time although even critics of the Scottish domestic structure would now admit that since then Edinburgh’s standing has improved to the extent they have more crowd appeal.

This extra status stems from becoming the first Scottish representatives to reach the quarter-finals of the European Cup last season which could translate to viability within the 16,500- capacity Easter Road Stadium.

Additionally, there would be added spice to any switch involving the Celtic League programme.

The Evening News understands that when fixtures are formally announced, Gunners will kick off the 2004-05 campaign against Ulster which, in the event of an Easter Road base for them, would mean taking the Red Hand side back to the ground they missed out on appearing at in 1998.

McKenzie’s remarks came in the wake of an Edinburgh Rugby sponsorship shake-up which, as well as the Evening News, brings on board cider firm Magners.