Comment: Clubs need to be rooted in communities

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what a journey Hearts have been on since the club almost died 18 months ago.

From the brink of oblivion, the Jam Tarts are now riding high on and off the pitch. And yesterday’s confirmation from club owner Ann Budge that they will be staying – and expanding – in their spiritual home at Tynecastle will be the icing on the cake for supporters.

It has been clear for some time that the club needs to expand and modernise its facilities in order to meet its full potential. There are obviously strong emotional ties to the Gorgie area – the club’s home for 129 years – but it was doubted whether that could be achieved without moving to another part of the city.

It is fantastic to hear that those improvements are now set to happen – and a great bonus that it will be in Gorgie.

And it is not pure nostalgia that makes this a good move.

Football’s public image has taken a bit of a battering in recent times. Its mega-rich clubs and star players can often seem disconnected from the lives of the people who pay to watch the game.

But, especially away from the billionaires of the English Premier League, clubs need to be rooted in their local communities in order to thrive.

It may sound overblown, but a well-run football club really can be a power for good in its community, by opening its facilities to neighbourhood groups and schools and youth clubs, becoming a place where local youngsters go to learn lessons about healthy living.

The days of a football stadium lying empty six days a week are long gone and that is a good thing for all. Communities benefit from access to first-rate facilities, and the club in turn benefits from their grounds becoming a thriving part of the community.

The modern regimes at Hearts and Hibs both recognise this and that is good for Gorgie, good for Leith, and good for Edinburgh as a whole.