Latest news:

Hibs and Hearts TO Discuss Groundshare

By ALan Turnbull
April 17 2003

It seems this debate regarding ground sharing has resurfaced with the Edinburgh Evening News running several stories on this subject over the last cople of weeks. Why not let us know what your views are on this subject. Untitled

Hibs and Hearts To Discuss Groundshare Option !!!!!!!
The following story is taken from yesterdays Edinburgh Eveining News, I have been behind Hibs moving ground or sahring with Hearts for some time now if it means a brighter future for Hibernian Football Club

 

 

THE possibility of Hibs and Hearts sharing a new multi-purpose stadium today received backing from both halves of the Edinburgh football divide.

Steve Cardownie, the Edinburgh City councillor with responsibility for recreation, has claimed that the clubs have held informal discussions on co-habitation and says the council are now waiting for an invitation to talk.

After the furore which surrounded Wallace Mercer’s attempted merger of the two clubs over a decade ago, the issue of sharing a stadium is one both clubs would handle with understandable sensitivity.

But from Cardownie’s comments, it would appear the idea of a municipal facility is being seriously considered, with the council themselves facing the distinct possibility of having to refurbish and possibly even replace the ageing Meadowbank Stadium.

With Hearts requiring a move from Tynecastle by 2010 due to UEFA regulations, chief executive Chris Robinson has gone public on his desire to uproot to a new location.

And in an exclusive interview with the Evening News last month he admitted a ground-share with Hibs was not out of the question.

Speaking then, he said: "That could never be ruled out as it is a sensible proposition.

"Clearly Tynecastle has a very limited shelf life despite the fact the bulk of the ground was built in the mid-late 1990s.

"We have been hurt by the UEFA regulations over the size of our pitch and also the fact we need to generate more revenue from more purpose-built facilities.

"But we also have to recognise the level of development which has taken place at Easter Road and all those factors would need to be considered by all concerned."

Although Hibs have invested heavily in the redevelopment of Easter Road, the money which could be gleaned from the sale of the land would go a long way towards battling the club’s mounting debts.

Fans on both sides objected vehemently to Mercer’s proposals, but time has healed those old wounds and there are signs that so long as the separate identities of both Hearts and Hibs are maintained then ground-share might well prove acceptable to supporters.

Stuart Crowther, editor of Hibs.net, described the idea as ‘fabulous’.

He said: "We have a shared problem between the two clubs and the answer is there if they just talk to each other.

"A shared stadium is a fabulous idea and would solve all sorts of problems.

"The combined debt of the two clubs is somewhere in the region of £30 million and there’s no way they are ever going to pay that back in their current positions.

"Ten years ago, maybe even as recently as five, I would have said there was no chance of the fans agreeing to this but I now see a growing sense of reality among the supporters.

"There will always be a few traditionalists who will object but most of us are pretty realistic - the only way we are going to progress and move forward is to look at an idea like this."

Robin Beith, vice-chairman of the federation of Hearts supporters clubs, echoed Crowther’s thoughts, saying: "I think we are 40 years too late with this idea.

"When it became clear that the 1970 Commonwealth Games were coming to Edinburgh it would have been the ideal time for a shared municipal stadium.

"It works on the continent and I don’t see why it wouldn‘t work here as well.

"The likes of Inter and AC Milan share a ground and if it‘s good enough for them it should be good enough for us.

"For all the work done at Tynecastle it has become a millstone round the club’s neck.

"And if it’s true that there is a UEFA ruling stating the stadium is unfit for European competition then something will have to be done."

Crowther believes Hibs owner Sir Tom Farmer holds the key to the issue.

As disclosed in these pages recently, Farmer has poured £2m into the club’s coffers over the past year, and is the man with the ultimate say at Easter Road.

Crowther continued: "Sir Tom Farmer is the key to this. At the end of the day if he decides this is a good idea then it will happen.

"I think the idea has been put out there to test the water and if the reaction is positive, which I believe it is, then there’s a good chance it will happen.

"This is a far better idea than the one Wallace Mercer came up with - it preserves the identity of both clubs but provides a way of cutting costs.

"The fact Hibs have invested in Easter Road over the past few years is not such a big issue because the value of the land is probably more important.

"Hearts have also spent money on Tynecastle but times have changed and the clubs have to look at a new way forward.

"It’s not all good - but there are solutions to the bad points if you look hard enough.

"The obvious problems would surround those occasions when the two clubs are meant to be at home, for instance with regard to Scottish Cup ties.

"There would also be occasions when the council might want to use it for athletics which would throw up an additional problem.

"The issue of over-use would be there but with good management it could be feasible.

"Sir Tom Farmer has to talk to Chris Robinson and the council also have to go in with good faith.

"They need to identify and set the costings and come up with a workable plan.

"For me, it’s the only way forward."

Beith‘s main concern surrounds the possibility that the ground may double as an athletics venue, robbing it of some of its atmosphere.

He added: "We want to play in a football stadium, not an athletics stadium. I don’t have a problem sharing with Hibs but having a big running track round the pitch would take away a lot of the atmosphere.

"I would reluctantly accept an athletics stadium if that’s all that was on offer, but it’s important to try and retain the feel of a proper football ground.

"If you look at Glasgow, Celtic Park and Ibrox are fantastic football stadiums while Hampden - the one with the big running track - is not.

"If it had to be used for athletics then maybe they could look at the idea of a retractable pitch to accommodate a track, but doubtless that would cost a lot of money.

"I wouldn’t want us to play in a stadium owned by Hibs but with the council on board it would be different.

"It could be used for other things like rock concerts as well which would bring in additional revenue."

Both clubs kept their cards close to their chests when contacted this week.

But Hibs spokesman David Forsyth left the door open for formal talks when he said: "There’s been no official meetings between the two clubs to discuss this issue.

"We have a stadium at Easter Road which complies with all the UEFA regulations.

"Nevertheless we would always be happy to sit down with the council and discuss any proposals they might have."

A Hearts spokesman said: "The reports are pure speculation. Both Chris Robinson and Rod Petrie (Hibs’ managing director) meet on regular occasions to discuss many football issues

 

 

View a Printer Friendly version of this Story.

Bookmark or share this story with: