ROBBIE NEILSON today outlined his desire for Hearts to rebuild Tynecastle’s main stand and continue playing at their spiritual home.
The club are exploring options aimed at redeveloping the stadium and head coach Neilson admitted there is no other ground like it.
The Hearts owner Ann Budge stated last week that she would prefer to remain at Tynecastle if the main stand can be rebuilt. The structure badly needs replacing and there has been talk for several years about a move to a new purpose-build stadium elsewhere.
Hearts have been at the current Tynecastle site since 1886 and hope to find a financially viable way of staying there. Neilson explained his view on the prospect of moving to a new stadium, which would likely bring strong opposition from fans.
“We want to stay at Tynecastle. It’s a great stadium to play in and it’s a great asset to us as a team,” he told the Evening News. “It’s a difficult environment for teams to come to. I played at Murrayfield for Hearts in European games and it’s night and day compared to Tynecastle. The fans are so far away from the pitch. The club are going to look at it and try to stay at Tynecastle.”
Murrayfield, the home of Scottish Rugby, remains an option should Hearts need a temporary ground to use whilst redeveloping Tynecastle. Discussions on a ground-share agreement would take place to determine whether a short-term move is required.
“That’s something Ann will will need to look at if we do decide to build a new stand,” continued Neilson. “It will be about whether we can work round about it, whether it can be done gradually over the course of part of the season. It’s a big decision to make to have a season away from Tynecastle.
“It’s a place that’s been there for well over 100 years and it’s a huge part of the club, having the stadium in the middle of the city. It’s something Ann will need to discuss. Firstly, if we put a new stand in, can we work round about it or would we need to move for a short period and then come back?”
Budge explained her thoughts on the matter last week and admitted she would do everything possible to keep Hearts in Gorgie. “If I go back to before I got involved with football, and I had heard all the discussions about Tynecastle, I would sit there in my ivory tower and think the answer is obvious. ‘Of course we need to move to a new stadium, with new facilities, do this and do that, which would be totally fit for purpose’. I would think, ‘I can’t understand why they are even faffing about with this’,” she said.
“But having been here a year, heard so many people speak passionately about Tynecastle, I think there has got to be a step, and the next step is going to be what can we do to keep us at Tynecastle. Despite all the challenges that could bring, it is about how we can overcome these. We are still doing the work, still looking at all the options but I am looking at it from the point of view of ‘how can we stay here, what can we do to make this viable’. It is only if we can actually make the economics work. Like to what extent could we increase the capacity and what would be the implications?”