DEPUTY council leader Steve Cardownie has sought to counter claims of a Hearts bias over plans for a new community stadium – by offering city rivals Hibs the chance to use the site.
The Tynecastle season ticket holder insisted the local authority would be open to letting the Easter Road side use the proposed west Edinburgh venue.
While he admitted it would be unlikely the Leith side would want to use the proposed stadium, after recently completing the new £3.2 million East Stand, Cardownie said the offer was open.
His comments came as some Hibs fans expressed anger that Vladimir Romanov’s club could be relocated to land owned by the council.
As the Evening News revealed last week, Tynecastle could be replaced by a new site, such as Sighthill Park, to potentially share a community stadium with Edinburgh Rugby and local schools.
Mr Cardownie said: “I’d be more than happy for both teams to share a stadium, but I understand that they have just built a new stand and might not want that.
“In the council we are definitely even-handed. I’m a Hearts fan but I’m a football fan first and they are two great clubs that should be supported.
“I was conscious that some people would think that [the council is biased] but Hearts and Hibs need each other and we would support both.
“Rivalry should be kept on the park and there is certainly no bias in this council.”
Asked if Hibs would get involved in project, he said: “I’m not sure they’d want to. They will have read what has happened, but there is no indication from Hibs that I am aware of that they would be interested.”
The move comes as Hibs supporters hit out at the help being offered to their rivals, suggesting that the council would “never” do the same for the Leith side.
Mike Riley, chairman of the Hibernian Supporters Club, said: “Cardownie is just covering his back because he’ll be getting complaints from the Hibs contingent.
“I couldn’t see why this community stadium would be of any benefit. Why would we want to go all the way out to Sighthill?
“The council has never done anything for us but they’ll go out of their way to help Hearts.
“It doesn’t surprise me that Romanov, who can’t afford to spend £50-60 million on a new stadium, has gone to the council knowing they are Hearts-minded, there’s no doubt.”
A Hibs spokesman said: “Easter Road is the home stadium of Hibernian and we’ve completely redeveloped our stadium by ourselves without support from the public purse.”