Hearts supremo Ann Budge blasts troublemakers

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BOSSES at Hearts have blasted a group of supporters who are alleged to have attacked a Ross County supporters’ coach after a match between the two sides on Saturday.

Club owner Ann Budge has contacted the Highlanders’ chairman to apologise personally for the incident, following which a number of fans, known as the “Young Team”, were accused of attacking the coach, stealing a drum from a County fan and even taking a steward’s cap.

Police have yet to receive a formal complaint regarding the alleged offences but will be working with Hearts to address concerns over antisocial and abusive behaviour by supporters.

It has emerged club leaders are working to gather “sufficient evidence” against the individuals involved and have also announced plans to ban a number of known troublemakers.

Increased stewarding and stricter ticketing controls are also set to be brought in, they added.

In a statement, Hearts bosses said: “The club is doing everything in its power to put an end to this type of behaviour.

“We have been working closely with Police Scotland and other agencies to gather sufficient evidence against the individuals involved to enable the appropriate action to be taken.

“It gives us no pleasure to say that a number of fans will be banned as a consequence of their recurring bad behaviour.”

The statement added: “We will now be working additionally with other agencies including schools and social work departments to try to take a more holistic view of the problems facing our football club and the wider community.”

Hearts revealed that a number of fans – who had taken to social media and online forums to vent their anger at those involved – had contacted the club individually, demanding action be taken against those responsible.

Directors admitted that plans for enhanced security and ticket checks at Tynecastle would result in inconvenience for some.

But they said the majority of supporters would be supportive if the measures help address the issue of fan misbehaviour.

The statement said: “Our inbox is filled with emails from Hearts supporters asking us to take action and we want to assure them, that we will not rest until we have satisfactorily addressed this problem.

“It seems that many football clubs have to deal with this problem – the actions of a few, besmirching the reputation of the majority of their decent supporters.

“We will certainly never accept it as ‘an inevitable part of the game’ here at Tynecastle.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Although we have not received any formal complaints in relation to the conduct of supporters following Saturday’s match, we continue to work closely with Hearts FC to address recent concerns regarding the behaviour of a minority of fans.

“Anyone who wishes to report an incident can do so by contacting police on 101 or speak to an officer.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com