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Last Updated: Monday, 16 June, 2003, 09:22 GMT 10:22 UK
Capital groundshare plan
Hibs' Rod Petrie and Hearts' Chris Robinson announce the plans
Rod Petrie and Chris Robinson are both enthusiastic
Hearts and Hibernian have opened discussions about the possibility of sharing a new stadium in Edinburgh.

Both clubs have raised the subject of a ground-share before.

But City of Edinburgh and Midlothian Councils have also indicated their desire to assist in what would be a 20m, 20,000-capacity stadium with an artificial pitch.

There is no suggestion of a merger of the clubs, a subject that at one time had the city rivals at loggerheads, and they have promised widespread consultation.

Relations between the clubs in the Scottish capital are presently at a high after the well-documented problems in the Bank of Scotland Premier League in the last year.

We are only prepared to consider a move if it puts us in a much stronger financial position
Hibs general manager Rod Petrie
But the recent advent of the Festival Cup, scheduled for 2 August, between Hearts and Hibs has prompted the current discussions.

Hearts chief executive Chris Robinson and Hibs general manager Rod Petrie met last week and both emerged keen on the idea of a joint stadium.

Straiton, near Loanhead, is the preferred site of the new stadium.

The news of the Edinburgh plans emerged 24 hours after Aberdeen FC revealed that they are in discussions with their local council about becoming tenants at a new stadium near their present Pittodrie home.

Hearts and Hibs have struggled financially in recent seasons and, although Hearts are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel, Hibs are being forced to offload players such as captain John O'Neil.

Robinson said: "Our need to move is well known.

"Apart from the potential financial benefits a move would bring, Tynecastle does not meet Uefa requirements.

"We are able to operate under derogation at present, but Tynecastle is too enclosed ever to meet Uefa's requirements.

"We have looked systematically at sites in conjunction with City of Edinburgh Council.

"One by one, these have been ruled out. The site at Straiton is the site which best meets our needs.

"It makes perfect sense to work in partnership on this with Hibernian and with both local authorities who are keen to be involved."

Relations between Hearts and Hibs have improved
Petrie, though, has sounded a note of caution over the move.

"Our position is different from that of Hearts," he said. "Our ground complies with the standards set down by Uefa.

"We are only prepared to consider a move if it puts us in a much stronger financial position.

"If we can exchange Easter Road and the mortgages associated with the stadium for access to another modern stadium and have no debt, reduced running costs, greater opportunities to generate revenues and have cash in the bank, I think it is an option well worth exploring.

"There will inevitably be people who feel strongly about any move away from our traditional home and I respect that point of view.

"All I ask is that people are prepared to have a mature debate on the issues and to consider the benefits of such a move."



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