Hearts ready to start training next week - but hope for clarity on league status beforehand
Hearts have arrangements in place to resume training on June 11 in line with Premiership teams – but they are hoping for clarity on league reconstruction beforehand to determine which division they will play in.
Should owner Ann Budge’s restructuring proposal to expand the top flight fail, Hearts will remain relegated to the Championship for season 2020/21.
Clubs in the second tier met via video conference on Tuesday and discussed a provisional kick-off date of October 3 behind closed doors.
That may be brought forward slightly but it all depends on the Edinburgh-based philanthropist James Anderson agreeing a deal to financially support clubs across the Scottish Professional Football League.
Hearts would see little point in beginning training next week if they will not be playing matches in August.
The sticking point is that many Championship clubs are reluctant to play behind closed doors without income from fans or a cash injection. They are awaiting the outcome of Anderson’s talks with the SPFL.
However, the Tynecastle club are eager to return to business and still retain some hope of reinstatement to the Premiership. The top flight has provisional permission from the Scottish Government to kick off on August 1 as planned.
Hearts have facilities in place to welcome players and staff back to Riccarton a week tomorrow, initially for non-contact training sessions in small groups.
The SPFL have agreed with Joe FitzPatrick, Scotland’s minister for public health, sport and wellbeing, that teams can return to training from June 11 following the coronavirus shutdown.
Hearts have looked into testing equipment and are able to access their offices, dressing rooms and pitches at Riccarton despite the adjoining Oriam complex being closed since Scotland entered lockdown in March.
They will stick rigidly to government rules on social distancing, with all equipment to be disinfected and players at all clubs asked to wash their own kit and travel separately in their own cars.
The Hearts squad are poised awaiting news of a definite restart date, while most non-football staff at Tynecastle remain on furlough leave and will be reintroduced to work over the weeks ahead.
A Hearts spokesperson told the Evening News: “We have been working during lockdown to get plans in place for a return to training and football as soon as we are in a position to do so.
“Staff have been working to ensure we are well prepared to welcome players and support staff back safely and in line with government guidelines.”
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