Hearts manager Gary Locke welcomed this week’s news that the club will be staying at their Riccarton base, admitting the prospect of returning to training on Edinburgh’s public parks didn’t bear thinking about.
Fears had been raised that the Jambos may have to end their arrangement with Heriot-Watt University in order to cut costs, with the club paying around £400,000 yearly in order to use the state-of-the-art facilities.
However, club administrators BDO managed to renegotiate a deal on Tuesday to ensure Hearts will continue their nine-year stay at Riccarton, where their much-vaunted youth system has flourished.
“I’m delighted with that,” said Locke. “It was always a worry because everyone knows the situation we’re in. The fact Heriot-Watt want us to stay here is great. I’ve seen the plans for the new development, too, (The £30 million Scottish Sport Academy is to be based at Heriot-Watt) and it’s certainly something that Hearts should be involved in.
“Being involved should move us forward as a football club – and you can see why just by looking at the current team, seeing what has come to fruition with the young players who have come through. If we can continue to be involved in the future, hopefully we can keep producing quality footballers. There’s no doubt that we wouldn’t have had as many good young players coming through. We’ve got a lot of talent here and there are worse places to work. With John Murray and Darren Murray working hard, this place has been brilliant for us. It’s up to us to keep producing the players.”
When Locke was a Hearts player, he didn’t have the luxury of a facility like Riccarton. “It would have been a nightmare if we had gone back to the days when I played here,” he said. “You used to turn up at Tynecastle and drive all over the place to training,” he recalled. “And Stevie Fulton wouldn’t take his car because he didn’t like getting it dirty!”