MAKE no mistake, this is a bleak day not just for sport in Edinburgh, but for the city as a whole.
Going into administration might not be the worst possible move for Hearts right now.
In fact, there are many who hope that it will be the first step towards saving the club, putting it back on an even keel and delivering it into safer hands for the future. That is possible, but far from certain.
One thing for sure is that any rebuilding that could start in the foreseeable future is going to be slow and painful. Even under the best case scenario, the team will have its work cut out retaining its SPL status next season with a 15- point deduction.
The traditional route for a struggling football club trying to turn around its fortunes – and the one followed by Hibs when they were relegated in 1980 – is no longer open to Hearts. They cannot throw money at the team, for the obvious reason. And there is no realistic prospect of that situation changing any time soon.
In the meantime, there remains the very real risk of liquidation, and being forced to start again from scratch.
Come what may, we know Hearts won’t die. The fans will ensure the club lives on, in one form or another. Right now, what form that takes is up for grabs. We wish the Foundation of Hearts every good fortune as they attempt to pull-off a remarkable fans revolution.
There are Hibees who will enjoy gloating, but every reasonable minded fan will recognise that Edinburgh is better with their sporting rivalry than without it. And both clubs are stronger for that rivalry.
But there are repercussions too beyond the football field. More than 130 staff are waiting anxiously to hear about the future of their jobs, while local businesses, from caterers to coach hirers, will suffer with any downturn in the Jambos fortunes. After 138 years of ups and downs, the stakes have never been higher.