A CROSS-SECTION of Hearts supporters have backed a potential move to a community stadium, but with many expressing fears that an athletics track could destroy Tynecastle’s celebrated atmosphere.
Fans have spoken of their reluctance to leave the spiritual home of Gorgie Road, but said a community stadium could offer financial stability and a greater capacity.
As the Evening News revealed yesterday, the frontrunner is expected to be Sighthill Park, once earmarked for a £53 million sports stadium.
The new stadium could potentially provide a home for Edinburgh Rugby and school sports, however fans baulked at the idea of an athletics track round the pitch. They said the plans were more attractive than the previous proposed move to Murrayfield, which was widely criticised.
Steven Kilgour, general secretary of the Federation of Hearts Supporters Clubs, who will be discussing the issue with the club on Monday, said: “From a personal point of view I wouldn’t be dead against the move. Obviously, the preferred option would be to stay at Tynecastle but the club has to move forward.
“There’s no point in letting emotional ties get in the way of progress. Sighthill Park isn’t too far away, it’s still in the west of the city and it’s still in the city boundaries.
“It’s a football stadium and if we share with a rugby team that’s fine because the playing areas are much the same, but we couldn’t have an athletics track because it would kill the atmosphere. They’ve got Meadowbank there if they want an athletics track.”
Hearts fan Willie Duncan, 28, an NHS administrator from Mayfield in Dalkeith, said: “Obviously it’s a move away from the spiritual home, but the fans seem surprisingly open to it.
“When the Murrayfield proposal came up a few years ago there was a massive uproar, because it was a terrible plan.
“Now there’s a realism among the fans that the stadium soon won’t be suitable and it’s almost impossible to renovate that main stand now.
“Sighthill is more accessible than Gorgie in many ways, especially for fans from outside Edinburgh like myself.”
Neil Hunter, 28, a sales manager from Penicuik, added: “A community stadium could be good if it means we can share the bills.”
But John Binnie, 53, a carpet sales rep from Moredun, said: “I don’t want to us to lose Tynie, it’s our spiritual home and there’s no ground like it.
“We’d lose that name and that’s important to us. I also think we’d lose that great atmosphere if we moved to a community stadium.”
Former lord provost Eric Milligan, a lifelong Hearts supporter who represents both Gorgie and Sighthill, said the decision was difficult.
He said: “This is an issue that’s not just close to my heart but in my heart.
“I suppose as a member of the planning committee I’ll have to watch developments and see how things progress, but my own view is that I’d certainly like Hearts to have their own ground.”
Hearts have said the issue is at an early stage and no decision has been taken, but that the club is currently working to “severe restrictions”.