Hearts to stay at Tynecastle and increase capacity of stadium

Hearts fans at Tynecastle
Hearts fans' desire to stay at Tynecastle played a major role in plans to redevelop the stadium

Hearts' board has decided the Scottish Premiership club will be staying at Tynecastle, owner Ann Budge has told the club's annual general meeting.

Budge admitted last year finances may eventually force the Edinburgh-based club to move to a new ground.

However, there are now plans to redevelop the main stand and increase ground capacity to at least 20,000.

"It was a preference driven by a desire from the majority of supporters to stay at Tynecastle," said Budge.

Work could begin in 12 months' time, around 300 shareholders were told at the stadium on Thursday.

And Budge explained: "It's a decision that we made in outline a number of months ago because then we had to start looking at 'Okay, if we're going down that route, what's feasible'.

The Hearts board address shareholders at the club's AGM
Budge (far right) and the board addressed shareholders at Tynecastle on Thursday

"There is an overwhelming view that Tynecastle is one of the best stadiums in Scotland, for atmosphere, I'm not going to say necessarily for all the facilities.

"And you don't want to throw that away, it's a terrific atmosphere when it's a full stadium. That influenced the decision - why would we move if we didn't have to?

"Plus there are lots of possibilities with the stand. We've talked at length about what we could do with the undercroft of the Wheatfield and the undercroft of the Roseburn, as well as the main stand, so Tynecastle's got a lot of development potential.

"We wanted additional capacity and I did set a minimum of 20,000. Anything less than that and I think it would be interpreted as a lack of ambition on our part."

Budge, who bought the club out of administration last year, admitted her initial preference was to move to a new stadium when she first arrived at the club but that the potential of Tynecastle had changed her mind.

And she said there was also a big attraction in the club being situated so close to the city centre.

A general view of the inside of Hearts' Tynecastle Stadium
Tynecastle has been Hearts' home since 1886

Meanwhile, Budge says the board wish to avoid putting the club into debt from building the new stand and are looking at a number of avenues to fund the new project but have ruled out selling the naming rights to the stadium.

"I don't think we'd like it to be called anything other than Tynecastle," she added.