Ann Budge has assured supporters that the impending £12million upgrade of Tynecastle Stadium will not have a negative impact on the finances available to continue improving the Hearts squad.
The club revealed on Monday night that they have more than half the funds already in place for the redevelopment, which will centre around the construction of a spectacular new main stand in time for the first home league game of the 2017/18 campaign.
Plans are well under way to source the remainder of the money required, with owner Budge hoping to confirm in the coming weeks how the ambitious venture will be funded.
However, while some clubs, such as Arsenal, have had to tone down their spending after developing their stadium or moving to a new one, Budge is adamant that the work at Tynecastle will not have any adverse effect on the funds available to director of football Craig Levein and head coach Robbie Neilson as they strive to re-establish Hearts at the top end of Scottish football. The chairwoman acknowledges that upgrading the stadium and increasing the capacity to just under 21,000 would be counter-productive if the quality of the team on the pitch was allowed to deteriorate.
“I would definitely assure the supporters that it wont affect the budget,” said Budge. “That would be shooting ourselves in the foot. There’s no point robbing Peter to pay Paul. We have got to carry on doing what has been successful. That’s investing in the team and developing young players to maybe sell on. We need to keep doing both. We need the team on the park to do well so the other areas of the business does well. Then with that money, we reinvest it in the team and in youth. That’s the way ahead. It would be crazy not to do that.”
Budge knows Hearts must maintain momentum on the pitch in order to ensure supporters continue flocking to Tynecastle to enjoy the new facilities. “It will only work if the supporters get behind the club,” said the owner. “We are in the position we are in because we have been selling out Tynecastle. We’ve been selling out hospitality and have record numbers of season tickets. The gamble, if we are going to call it a gamble, is do we think the supporters will continue to back the club? I’ve seen nothing to suggest they wouldn’t do that.
“Clearly, we have to keep the performance up on the pitch as well. That’s a big factor if we are going to do this. We have no intention of cutting back on investing in the team and in youth development. We just need to keep moving forward. We have got more to do. We have to get better. We are still a young outfit and we are learning all the time. We will continue to do the things that are working.”