Ann Budge today told a minority of misbehaving Hearts fans they are costing their club money which could be better spent. Budge has had to agree to extra policing and stewarding as a result of “unacceptable behaviour”, which will leave the Edinburgh club £50,000 out of pocket.
A statement on the Hearts website reported that business progress is being made and offered an explanation on the distribution of tickets for the Scottish Cup tie with Hibs. However, Budge rounded on those who have tarnished her club’s reputation by fighting with rival supporters and, most recently, verbally abusing the Dundee United manager Mixu Paatelainen.
Budge has met with police and authorities and agreed to increase security at all Hearts games between now and the end of the season. She is urging the few people responsible to improve their behaviour or face a ban from Tynecastle.
“The outcome of these meetings is quite simply that we have had to agree that we will have no Police-free matches, between now and the end of the season. This will cost the club between £40,000-£50,000,” she said in her statement.
“Apart from the reputational damage that this behaviour causes the club, its employees and its supporters, this is £40,000-£50,000 that we cannot put towards our stadium and facilities improvements programme.
“Allowing a tiny minority of supporters to bring the club’s reputation into disrepute is something we will not tolerate. We will be clamping down on supporters who behave unacceptably. This will mean more stringent checks and more surveillance both inside and outside the stadium. While this is very disappointing, we are confident that the majority of true supporters will agree that action must be taken.
“On a similar note, many of you will have seen in the media that Hearts is under formal investigation because of a number of incidents that took place during the recent Hearts v Dundee United fixture. I will, of course, robustly defend the club’s position on this matter, but there is one area which I cannot defend. In particular, it would appear that excessive verbal abuse was directed at the opposition manager.
“While the manager (Mixu Paatelainen) was personally both understanding and pragmatic in his acceptance that “this happens”, it has been reported by the match delegate that this reached unacceptable proportions. As a consequence, additional stewarding will be put in place in this area of the stadium, along with video cameras, and any behaviour of this nature, in future, will be robustly dealt with.
“In summary, we will now have a police presence at all matches, along with additional stewarding… all at a significant cost to the club. I would also remind you to use the Help Text line should you feel something needs to be addressed.”
For the full statement on the Hearts website, visit http://www.heartsfc.co.uk/news/4914