Owner Ann Budge has confirmed that Hearts will lay a new pitch at Tynecastle Park for the start of next season, although it has yet to be decided whether it will be a grass or a hybrid surface.
The Gorgie club’s pitch has come under scrutiny this season, with opposition teams criticising the state of the turf and even Hearts manager Craig Levein admitting that it can cause difficulties for players. The surface – which was relaid at a six-figure cost less than a year ago – has been badly affected by heavy rain and cold weather over the winter period this season.
Hearts’ board has now entered a period of consultation over what type of pitch they will decide to install after agreeing to rip up the current one at a meeting last week. A hybrid version such as the one at BT Murrayfield is being explored, but costs for that could spiral into seven figures. The Scottish Rugby Union paid close to £1.3million for their hybrid pitch and Levein was complementary about the playing conditions at the home of Scottish rugby during Hearts’ stay at the stadium earlier in this campaign.
“As you will remember, a new surface was laid down this time last year,” Budge wrote in her programme notes for Hearts’ game with St Johnstone last weekend. “However, that was only ever intended to be a temporary solution.
“I am pleased, therefore, to announce that plans to relay the pitch in the summer have been approved by the board of directors.
“This will allow us to completely rip up the turf and the soil beneath it, something that hasn’t been done in nearly 20 years.
“This will represent another major financial commitment by the club, but we believe it to be an essential investment that will benefit the team for years to come.”
The Evening News understands that Hearts are keen to move towards a hybrid pitch, which would involve synthetic fibres being mixed with grass, but financial outlay will have a significant bearing on the verdict. Hearts have already spent close to £15m on their new main stand in the past year, an amount which is greater than their original budget for the structure.
A final decision on the new surface will be made in the coming months, with work beginning at the end of the current season and the pitch ready for matches by the start of July.