Hearts today confirmed at their AGM that they will be remaining at Tynecastle and intend to unveil plans for a new main stand in the near future that would take the capacity to more than 20,000.
Club owner Ann Budge told the 300 shareholders at today’s annual general meeting: “In case there is still any doubt, I want to stress that the board has decided that Hearts’ future is at Tynecastle. By this time next year, I hope that we will be very far down the road with the main stand. The first step in making this possible is to enlarge the footprint. We can’t just knock down the current main stand and build another one in the same space.
“To enlarge the footprint, we need more space. We have already acquired some of the land that we need for building and we’re in the very final stages of concluding a deal to buy the rest. For clarity, the only land that the club owned before was the actual stadium and the right-of-way access into the stadium. Nothing behind the stand was previously owned by the club, but it is now. Before we can do anything, we have to get the land, and we’re almost there.
“We also have outlined plans for what the new stand will look like. We have some designs, building schedules and the backing of one of the key players at the planning department. We’ve had many meetings, and everybody who needs to know, knows what we’re trying to do and is very supportive.
“Our objective isn’t just to build a new stand, it is to put Tynecastle back on the map as a really desirable area of Edinburgh. I know everybody is desperate for detail but we can’t release any detail of these plans until we’re 100 per clear that we’ve cleared all the hurdles. We’re nearly there and anticipate that in the next couple of months, we’ll be unveiling some plans.”
Budge confirmed that building of the new stand could be done in the space of a close-season and won’t need the team to play any home matches away from Tynecastle, although this will require co-operation from the SPFL in order to ensure Hearts are away from home in the closing games of one season and in the opening games of the following campaign. The building of the stand is expected to start in either May or June 2017.
The club also announced that losses compared to last year were down to £415,000 from £994,000.
“Financially, we completely out performed our financial plan and our turnover has risen from £5,098m to £7,077 and a half-million pounds improvement on the bottom line and this does not include the donations from the Foundation of Hearts,” added Budge.
“Having lost £994,000 previously our losses are down to £415,000 in the past year and we are well on the way to breaking even or better this season, again, ahead of our schedule.”