BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HEARTS owner Ann Budge has confessed that work on the new Main Stand at Tynecastle has run over budget, but is confident the project remains on course to be completed by September.
The structure, which will see the capacity of the Jambos’ Gorgie home increase to 20,099, was originally slated to cost the club £12 million.
However, Budge has confirmed that a swathe of “complexities and challenges” relating to the planning and construction process have ensured the original estimate has proved modest.
Despite the additional costs of the new stand, Budge is adamant the club do have the funds in place to make up the difference and finish the job – and will do so on schedule.
Budge, who confirmed that the demolition of Hearts’ existing Main Stand will be completed by the end of next month, said: “In terms of current progress, the first thing to say is that we remain on schedule, for our first league game next season to be played at Tynecastle, in front of the new stand, on 9th September.
“As I have said repeatedly, every day brings its own challenges on a project of this size and complexity and, not entirely unexpectedly, we have been faced with a number of changes that have resulted in some budget overruns.
“However, these are at a level that are manageable and capable of being met from club funds; and most importantly, will not result in us failing to achieve our very tight timescales. In short, things continue to be managed very tightly and everything is still going to plan.”
In a lengthy statement on Hearts’ official website, Budge assured supporters that the arrivals of Christophe Berra and Cole Stockton are the first of several summer signings and urged fans to sign up to the “One in a Million” fund, which aims to raise cash for the redevelopment of Tynecastle and has already raked in £300,000.
Budge also revealed that Hearts have shipped 10,500 season tickets for next term in the space of three weeks.
She continued: “I am delighted to say that our season ticket offerings seem to have been well received by the majority of our supporters and once again, our numbers are looking very good with 10,500 already signed up for season 2017/18.
Budge did, however, concede that Hearts’ poor displays – winning six out of 26 games under Ian Cathro and missing out on Europe – did cause many supporters to vent their anger.
She added: “Given our poorer than desired first team performance this season, we have had a number of emails/letters, etc. with complaints, challenges, questions and indeed, suggestions…around our plans for the football department.
“A number of these communications have requested, and others have demanded, a personal response from me. I’m afraid that this is just not practical; and nor would it be the best use of my time.
“I have absolutely no problem with supporters making their thoughts known to the Club and indeed, to me personally, but my way of responding to general observations, will be to do so openly, honestly and clearly; in interviews, in briefing meetings and in general updates.”