Hearts: Tynecastle car park to be sold by council

The car park to the right of the Hearts stadium. Picture: Ian Rutherford
The car park to the right of the Hearts stadium. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A CAR park used by Hearts on match days is to be sold by the council.

The move leaves the cash-strapped club without enough space for its players, disabled supporters, officials and VIP guests.

Comment: ‘Kick in the teeth for Hearts club and fans’

City chiefs said they had found a prospective buyer for the former Tynecastle High School on McLeod Street, which has been used by the club for more than 30 years, providing space for up to 250 cars.

With the car park outside the club’s ticket office taken up by emergency services on match day, they have been left with no provision.

The site which is costing the council £80,000 a year to maintain, is currently under offer from a prospective buyer.

Former Hearts chairman Lord George Foulkes criticised the council for hitting the club when it was already struggling. He said: “There was no discussion about this, they just came and asked for the keys of the car park. Everyone else is bending over backwards to help the club – fans are doing what they can, the administrators are being helpful, most bodies are going out of their way to help.

“It really is very strange the council should take this attitude. Fans will be disappointed and annoyed. I hope they will think again.”

The crisis-hit club had faced a problem tonight after they were told to hand over the keys to the site just 24 hours ahead of the Scottish League Cup match against Queen of the South – while Dundee United are due at Tynecastle on Saturday for a league game.

Hearts bosses had quickly set about putting contingency plans in place which would have seen players being asked to use a car pool to get to games, while directors were told to leave the car at home if possible.

After being challenged by the News on the matter, however, city chiefs have now agreed a one-week stay of execution – giving Hearts more time to find alternative arrangements ahead of their game against St Mirren on October 5.

Council bosses informed the club of their decision to listen to offers two months ago. The council would not reveal the name of the prospective owner or how much they were expected to pay for the site.

A spokesman for the Foundation of Hearts said: “This is hardly ideal given the situation the club currently finds itself in and we would have thought that the council would have shown more flexibility towards the club. We need to get to a situation where public bodies and Hearts work towards the benefit of the club.”

Former Hearts chairman and property expert Leslie Deans, told of his disbelief at the move.

He said: “Hearts, as we all know, are in no position at present to buy this site. Perhaps the club should have bought this site a few years ago. Mr Romanov should have spent his money more wisely.”

A council spokeswoman said: “The use of the former Tynecastle High School car park by Hearts FC was a local arrangement between the school and the club. The council notified Hearts of our intention to market this over two months ago and the site is currently under offer. We will be giving the club access to the car park for tonight’s match and this coming weekend due to concerns raised about the impact on local traffic.

“Any further use of the site will be subject to further arrangements being agreed.”

A Hearts spokesman said: “The late notification of the loss of our parking facility presented us with a logistical headache, but we are pleased common sense has ­prevailed.

“We would ask those inconvenienced to bear with us as we try to find a long-term solution.”

Controversial Tynecastle maintenance sparks fury

While it creates an unwelcome problem for Hearts, the potential sale of the former Tynecastle High site will provide a welcome boost to the city’s coffers – and remove a significant financial burden.

In June, the News revealed how the city council has spent almost £250,000 of taxpayers’ money maintaining the former Tynecastle High over the last three years. The huge outlay to retain the empty building sparked fury from cash-strapped charity groups and politicians who branded the spending “a serious waste of money”.

The council insisted the spending on “maintenance and security” at the old site was necessary to ensure the building remained attractive to potential buyers – but critics said the spend was “shocking” at a time when funding for other projects was being cut.

Pillar of a dead dream

THE school site was a pillar in plans to redevelop Tynecastle Stadium in 2007 but the project was mothballed by Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov.

Ambitious proposals for a state-of-the-art main stand costing in excess of £50 million had been unveiled – the biggest single investment in club history.

The 10,000-seat structure was intended to replace the main stand, increasing stadium capacity to near the 25,000 mark.

In 2010, the city council put pressure on the club to confirm its planned £4m purchase of the former school site for future phases of redevelopment.

However, in May that year, the club admitted it could not afford the

plans.