By Hannah Ewan
AN Edinburgh council chief has enraged Hibs fans by suggesting they could share a stadium with arch-rivals Hearts.
Steve Cardownie, deputy leader of the council, made his comments in a botched bid to show Hibs fans the council is not biased in favour of Hearts.
Councillor Cardownie, a Hearts season ticket holder, said Hibs could have use of a new community stadium on council land which is earmarked to replace Tynecastle.
The plan for the new stadium – which would also be used for rugby and by a local school – has already angered Hibs fans, whose club has just spent £3.2m on its East Stand.
Councillor Cardownie said: “I’d be more than happy for both teams to share a stadium.
“In the council we are definitely even-handed. I’m a Hearts fan but I’m a football fan first and they are two great clubs that should be supported.
“I was conscious that some people would think that [the council is biased] but Hearts and Hibs need each other and we would support both.
“Rivalry should be kept on the park and there is certainly no bias in the council.”
He conceded: “But I understand that [Hibs] have just built a new stand and might not want that.”
Hibs supporters have contested his claim of even-handedness, saying such help would “never” be offered by the council to the Leith team.
Mike Riley, chairman of the Hibernian Supporters Club, said: “Cardownie is just covering his back because he’ll be getting complaints from the Hibs contingent.
“I couldn’t see why this community stadium would be of any benefit. Why would we want to go all the way out to Sighthill?
“The council has never done anything for us but they’ll go out of their way to help Hearts.
“It doesn’t surprise me that Romanov, who can’t afford to spend £50-60 million on a new stadium, has gone to the council knowing they are Hearts-minded, there’s no doubt.”
A Hibs spokesman said: “Easter Road is the home stadium of Hibernium and we’ve completely redeveloped out stadium by ourselves with no help from the public purse.”