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Thistle's fury

Partick demand probe into Hearts fixture saga

Anne Budge

Hearts owner Ann Budge in front of the newly-opened £12million main stand at Tynecastle Park (pic: SNS Group)

The SPFL will today be approached officially by Partick Thistle to investigate the circumstances surrounding the uncertainty of their league game against Hearts at the newly-renovated Tynecastle Park.

Yesterday’s clash was only given the final clearance to go ahead in front of the new £12million main stand on the morning of the match following the delivery of all necessary safety certificates.

Thistle voiced their displeasure at the late call, claiming the saga had damaged Scottish football and are demanding answers from the authorities.

The Jags, who earned a draw thanks to a late equaliser from Kris Doolan following Esmael Goncalves’ second-half opener, issued a statement saying: “It is unacceptable that there was uncertainty about whether a top flight game would go ahead less than 18 hours before kick-off.

“It is not right to treat players, staff and, most importantly, the supporters of both clubs in this way.

“It is a situation that never should have been allowed to develop – and it must not happen to any club in future.

“We will be asking the SPFL for an extensive review into the circumstances that allowed this situation to arise. Specifically, we will be asking why it was allowed to continue to such a late stage, damaging Scottish football at a time when we are all working hard to attract new fans.”

After the game, Partick manager Alan Archibald weighed in with his own thoughts on the matter, insisting the SPFL should have taken a tougher stance.

“It wouldn’t have happened if Rangers were coming would it, let’s be honest?” he said.

“That is not a wee club mentality. I just think with the amount of traffic, personnel, they wouldn’t have allowed that to go to the last minute.

“I think there would have been more common sense rather than Hearts having to do the work that they had to do to rush about to get it on.

“I am not going to lie, the last couple of days were difficult.

“Nothing against Hearts, they were desperate to get the game on as well, so were we.

“It is a league’s position, they should have taken a stance on it, made a decision one way or the other, gave them a cut-off point and rescheduled it for Wednesday, just like they do for cup replays.”

The new stand had been originally scheduled to open on September 9 but a series of delays, including forgetting to order the seats, saw Hearts’ homecoming put back two months, with the club forced to play a further three home fixtures at its temporary base BT Murrayfield.

Kick-off for the Thistle clash was then delayed by 15 minutes as access issues caused problems for supporters entering the ground.

Hearts owner Ann Budge defended the club’s approach to the fixture, saying: “I know certain supporters will have been frustrated, but we were really doing it because we felt it was the right thing to do.

“The easy option for me would have been to say on Monday or Wednesday, ‘this is too difficult let’s just postpone the game’.

“Nobody would have wanted that, Partick Thistle didn’t want that.

“From my perspective I reckoned it was important to all the fans – the Hearts fans and the Partick fans – it was important to both clubs, both teams, that we really go for it.

“I felt I had a duty to really push it to the wire to try and get this game on because so many people would have had different problems.

“And the other thing is, despite what you may have read in the press or wherever, I was in constant touch with Partick Thistle.

“I have been in daily touch with the SPF, everyone has known what’s been going on.”

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