HEARTS hope to receive planning permission for their new main stand next month and aim to start building work immediately.
Owner Ann Budge admitted that the project is already three weeks behind schedule. As a result, Hearts could play several games away from home at the start of next season whilst the new Tynecastle is completed.
City of Edinburgh Council must ratify the proposals before work can begin. The Council’s planning committee are due to meet on Thursday, October 6, and will then deliver a verdict on whether the £12 million redevelopment should go ahead.
“We have had confirmation that the planning committee [meeting] will definitely take place in October. I’m hoping we will get the green light and we’re ready to start after that,” said Budge.
“The first thing we’ll need to do is knock down all the buildings. That should take about six weeks. If we get the go-ahead then the objective is that by Christmas the site will be cleared and we’ll have relocated [into the Wheatfield Stand].
“Once we get the go-ahead we can commission some of the steel stuff. Clearing the site between now and Christmas is the main objective to get it ready for building on.”
Budge has already approached the Scottish Professional Football League about the possibility of Hearts starting next season with a run of away fixtures.
“We have slipped probably three weeks behind. [Completion by] the start of the season would be ambitious but we are working towards it being ready by the end of September.
“I have spoken in principle to the SPFL about delaying our first home game but I can’t do anything officially. They come out every year and ask if anyone has scheduling requests so I can’t do anything until then. When I mentioned it previously, they said it has been done before so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be done.”
Budge now sits on the SPFL board but admitted her work at Hearts is far more than she expected. “When I first got involved with the club [two years ago] I didn’t realise at all what I was getting into,” she said after opening the new museum.
“It was certainly never in my mind to build a museum or the memorial garden. But my plan was always that, before I handed over to the supporters, the plan would be in place for the new stand but not for it actually to be built.
“I knew I would have to look at it and prepare the ground. I don’t want to cut corners, if I want to do it right. I’m pretty hands on. I have a meetings every day, it’s been constant.
“We’ve had to buy property, negotiate over the nursery and address all the health and safety issues. We’ve also had to get all the professionals lined up.
“I’m reasonably comfortable that if we get the go-ahead in October then we’re ready to go. I’m trying to work out a new schedule for myself just now. It doesn’t matter what business you’re running, you need thinking time and that’s my biggest problem just now.
“I go from one meeting to another. I need to stand back and think about a few things. We’ve got a strong team and I don’t feel I need to be so hands-on with the day-to-day running of the football club. The team I’ve got in place can get on with it and I only get involved in the exceptional things.
“Someone said to me the other day that I’ll never retire but if, when I hand over to the fans, we’ve achieved everything we set out to achieve, then I’ll be pleased. There will be a lot of space in the new stand and we might have a bigger museum. Hopefully we’ll have a few more trophies to fill it.”