Hearts to close section of Tynecastle following Edinburgh derby disorder
Hearts are to close a section of Tynecastle after last weekend’s disorder at the Edinburgh derby.
Following a series of incidents during the 2-1 win for Hibernian, a 19-year-old has been charged in connection with a hate crime and a 38-year-old man was arrested in connection with the use of racist language.
Another 19-year-old was arrested over a flare being thrown and a 16-year-old boy was arrested in connection with a coin being thrown.
In a lengthy statement released on the club’s website, chairwoman Ann Budge stated that a part of the Wheatfield Stand would be closed for the final two home games of the season with around 200 supporters moved elsewhere in the ground.
The statement read: “At Tynecastle, we have worked hard over the last few seasons to strengthen our security processes and practices, and we continue to do so.
“Nonetheless, during the course of last Saturday’s derby against Hibernian, no less than seven pyrotechnics were discharged / thrown onto the pitch…four from the Hearts area and three from the Hibs stand.
“In addition, there were instances of coins being thrown, cups, some containing hot drinks, being thrown and even a coconut being thrown onto the pitch.
“Every single instance could have resulted in injury to an individual and in the case of the pyrotechnics, this did result in damage to the pitch…a pitch which, with the financial support of our fans, we have recently put down at a cost of £1million.
“Why would our own fans want to damage this? It beggars belief!”
Budge described the alleged racial abuse of a Hibs player by a Hearts fan as “appalling” and added: “I am pleased to report that an individual has now been charged by Police Scotland in relation to this incident.
“Yes, I have also received reports of Hearts players being racially abused by Hibs ‘supporters’. Just because it happens both ways, in no way, condones it.
“I have also received reports of sectarian comments being made by Hearts supporters.
“On the day, thanks to CCTV footage, and indeed thanks to supporters reporting incidents of unacceptable behaviour, four Hearts supporters were ejected and three were arrested.
“Other matters are still being followed up with Police Scotland.
“I have said before that we will continue to take action to drive this behaviour out of Tynecastle Park…and I know that I have the support of all fair-minded Hearts supporters in our efforts to eradicate this behaviour.
“Since a number of the incidents mentioned above emanated from lower section G of the Wheatfield Stand, I have given instructions to close this section with immediate effect.
“Season ticket holders within this section will be offered seats elsewhere in the stadium for the remaining two games of the season.
“I apologise to any ‘innocents’ who are caught up in this. I want to stress that this is not something we do lightly.
“This will impact close to 200 season ticket holders and as such, will cost the club financially. We have already lost income by closing corner sections of the Roseburn Stand in recent games.
“That we are having to reduce available capacity at games – when we have worked so hard to increase our capacity through building our new stand – is nothing short of ludicrous.
“As ludicrous as having spent £1million on a state-of-the-art pitch, which some of our own fans are willing to risk destroying.
“To counter this appalling behaviour, I have already committed to spending another £100,000 in upgrading our CCTV system.
“This will be implemented during the close season. There are so many other things we could be doing with that money.”
The statement continued: “Our supporters have been magnificent in their financial backing of the club. We cannot sit back and allow a small group of mindless individuals undermine our achievements.
“Thanks to this kind of behaviour, the costs associated with providing a safe, secure and family-friendly environment for supporters to enjoy the game they love, are escalating.
“Please work with us to stamp this out. I would encourage all supporters to text us confidentially to report incidents of unacceptable behaviour on the Fan Reporting Service number, which can be found on the club website.
“Help us to protect the reputation we have fought so hard to rebuild.”