Hearts confirm Naismith will lift Championship trophy

The Tynecastle club has cleared up their plans to mark winning the league.

Hearts confirm Naismith will lift Championship trophy SNS Group

Hearts have confirmed captain Steven Naismith will lift the Championship trophy and players will collect medals after they play their final league match of the season on Saturday.

However, the league winners said that there will be “no fanfare” and “no party on the pitch” given the absence of fans.

Some supporters had called for the club to reject the opportunity to lift the silverware in protest at the circumstances that led to Hearts being in the Championship this season. The club was relegated after a vote was taken to cut last season short after the outbreak of the pandemic and the shutdown of all football.

Hearts fought against the decision, taking their challenge to court and then being punished by the Scottish FA as a result.

Manager Robbie Neilson revealed this week players would have a discussion about whether or not they would collect the trophy or not, and they have now agreed that they will accept their prize as “an act of respect”.

A statement on the club website read: “Saturday will see Heart of Midlothian host Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the final home match of the 2020/21 campaign.

“The Jambos head into the game having already won the Championship title in what has been, undoubtedly, the most challenging year in living memory.

“The campaign has seen its ups and its downs. There have been some memorable moments and there have been some tough periods. What is beyond doubt, however, is that Hearts are worthy winners of the league and this is a feat that we are delighted to have achieved, given how competitive the division has been, and we now begin to look forward to our return to the top flight.

“Not having our fans inside Tynecastle, for the entirety of the season, has been a big blow and the club is extremely thankful and grateful for the support we have received from afar.

“We understand the views of some supporters that we should not lift the trophy on Saturday. However, our players and backroom staff deserve to be recognised as the group that took the club straight back out of, notoriously, the most difficult league in Scotland to win promotion from, in the most challenging circumstances imaginable.

“At full time the first team will collect their winners’ medals and our captain, Steven Naismith, will lift the trophy – respectfully and to honour the players’ achievement – before returning to the dressing room. There will be no fanfare, there will be no passing around of the trophy and there will be no party on the pitch, given the absence of our fans.

“This act will be an act of respect. Respect to our players for the ‘hard yards’ they put in over the course of the season, respect to our opponents who would love to be in our position and respect to the fans who continue to back the club in an unprecedented fashion.

“We will always conduct ourselves in a manner befitting this great club. We will always do the right thing, no matter the circumstances. We are Always Hearts.”

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