Stirling Albion and Heart of Midlothian are to battle it out for the second ‘Supporters Direct Scotland Cup’ when they meet at Forthbank Stadium on Tuesday July 14.
The announcement of this attractive pre-season fixture comes during Supporters Direct Scotland’s ‘Supporter Ownership Week’, a week-long celebration of supporter ownership in Scottish football.
Andrew Jenkin, Head of Supporters Direct Scotland, said: “The SDS Cup was set up to promote and celebrate supporter ownership and we are delighted Stirling Albion and Heart of Midlothian have agreed to take part. Both clubs have achieved great things through supporter involvement, which can come in many forms to the betterment of the game.”
The Stirling Albion Supporters Trust and Foundation of Hearts both have a significant shareholding in their respective clubs.
Ian Murray MP, on behalf of the Foundation of Hearts, said: “The past 12 months has shown how further fan involvement in football can benefit clubs and the game. The achievements of Foundation of Hearts and Heart of Midlothian on and off the pitch have demonstrated that supporters and business working together are capable of great things.
“The work of Supporters Direct Scotland in helping fans pursue supporter ownership is valuable to the game and their communities and this game gives us a chance to celebrate the movement.”
Stuart Brown, Chairman of Stirling Albion FC, said: “I’m delighted Hearts are coming to Forthbank for the Supporters Direct Scotland Cup.
“Robbie (Neilson) and his team have had an unbelievable season in the SPFL Championship, culminating in a thoroughly deserved League title and promotion back to the Premiership. On behalf of everyone at Stirling Albion, I extend my congratulations and best wishes for season 2015/16.
“Everyone at Stirling Albion is excited about the prospect of playing against such top-quality opposition and I would encourage all our fans to make the effort to come along and make it an evening to remember.”
Since becoming fan owned in 2010, Stirling Albion have ensured their club has grown sustainably within the local community, including the employment of a community engagement officer and has operated financially soundly.
Hearts are the current holders of the SDS Cup, having won the trophy by defeating Dunfermline Athletic 2-1 in July 2013, and a club spokesman said: “We’re delighted to be participating in the SDS Cup again and look forward to the challenge of facing Stirling Albion at Forthbank.
“It offers us a good test ahead of the start of the new season and the fact there’s the prospect of retaining the Supporters Direct Scotland Cup offers an added incentive.”
Jim Thomson, Chairman of the Stirling Albion Supporters Trust, said: “The Stirling Albion Supporters Trust very much supports this tournament and it will be great to welcome Championship winning side Heart of Midlothian to Stirling.
“Fan ownership is growing within the game and high-profile support from the likes of Hearts can only benefit the move to fan involvement. A big thank you to Supporters Direct Scotland for making it happen.”
Admission details for the match will be confirmed in due course.