Hearts face race against time to get new stand ready for Killie
Hearts are battling against the clock to have their new main stand ready in time for Tynecastle to host its first scheduled match against Kilmarnock a fortnight on Sunday.
The Edinburgh club remain hopeful that the required work will be completed in time for the visit of Steve Clarke’s team on November 5, but contingency plans are already in place for the match to be staged at Murrayfield if required.
The structure is almost complete, and the seating is expected to be in place in time, but there are still infrastructure issues which need tended to in order to ensure the stand is safe and equipped to house 7000 people in 16 days’ time.
Hearts are likely to make a decision next week on whether or not the stadium is ready to host the Kilmarnock match, but owner Ann Budge remains intent on ensuring Tynecastle is ready in time after already having to push its scheduled opening in September back two months.
“Ann is determined to get the game on,” said manager Craig Levein. “When she is determined about something, it usually happens. Everybody is working flat out to get the place ready.” The new stand was not scheduled to be in fully working order until the end of the season in any case, with work on the dressing-room area and hospitality suites set for completion in the new year. Hope remains that it will be of an adequate standard to be able to host next month’s home fixtures.
“We don’t need the place to be finished,” said Levein. “We just need it ready to put a game on. I’m hopeful.
“There is a plan B, but I have not been party to those discussions just yet.
“I believe Murrayfield is an option, but I’m sure there will be adequate plans in place should it not go ahead.”
While Murrayfield is lined up as a back-up option for the Kilmarnock game, Hearts would be presented with a headache if Tynecastle was unable to host any of their following two Premiership games – against Partick Thistle and Ross County on Sunday November 19 and Saturday November 25, respectively – as both games fall on weekends when Scotland’s rugby team are scheduled to be playing autumn Test matches, therefore throwing up obvious logistical issues.
Hearts have already swapped some of their early-season home matches to away games, meaning eight of their nine Premiership fixtures thus far have been on the road. After playing their next two home games, including tomorrow’s match against St Johnstone, at Murrayfield, Levein’s side are scheduled to play seven times in succession at Tynecastle between November 5 and December 17.