Police question safety of Hearts' new main stand
Hearts insist tomorrow's home clash with Motherwell will go ahead, despite a police report calling for a 're-examination' of the last-minute safety certificate awarded to Tynecastle's new main stand last month.
Club chiefs were locked in urgent talks yesterday after leaked correspondence between matchday police and City of Edinburgh Council safety officers highlighted a number of electrical and security faults within the 7,000-capacity stand.
Among the “significant” concerns raised by police was interference with CCTV systems during the matches against Partick Thistle on 19 November and Ross County six days later. The clash with Hamilton on 2 December was subject to a delayed kick-off after the stadium was evacuated twice due to a malfunctioning fire alarm.
Additional electrical problems were also reported after it was found that lighting systems had been affected due to floodlight failure before the Ross County match got under way. The game was played with just two functioning floodlights before a third was activated in the second half – at the expense of powering down other parts of the stadium including the lighting in the toilets of the Roseburn Stand.
In a statement published on the Hearts website, a club official said: “Heart of Midlothian Football Club can confirm that it was contacted by Edinburgh City Council with regards to a letter sent to them by Police Scotland.
“The letter expressed some concerns regarding general security following a number of unrelated incidents at the first three games held at Tynecastle Park.
“Following a satisfactory outcome to a meeting held today at the stadium, attended by all parties, the club is looking forward to welcoming Motherwell to Tynecastle this Saturday.”
Authorities were also anxious over potential clashes between supporters and visiting management teams after observing a lack of separation between the directors’ box and general supporter seating when Hearts manager Craig Levein was dismissed from the touchline in the 1-1 draw with Hamilton. The report noted: “Should an unpopular manager or other official be positioned, [in the stand] then it would have the potential for increased tension and risk.”
Hearts are due to play Hibs, twice, and Celtic at home in the coming weeks.
The lack of trackside gates attached to safety barriers in front of the stand were cited as “leading to an increased risk of pitch incursion”.
Chief superintendent Kenny MacDonald, divisional commander for Edinburgh said: “The safety of the public attending sporting events is paramount and there are robust processes in place by football clubs, the police, the local authority and other partners to ensure safety is our number one priority.”
A spokesperson for the council said: “The safety of everyone attending matches is paramount and we are working with Hearts and their contractors to ensure the matters raised by Police Scotland are addressed.
“As work in the stadium is ongoing, contingency measures are being put in place to reinforce safety procedures, while temporary occupation certificates and general safety certificates will continue to be issued on a match-by-match basis.”