London Hearts Supporters Club

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Valdas Ivanauskas <-auth Alan Pattullo auth-> Peter Sippel
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Hearts play down terrorist threat


HEARTS last night sought to assure fans that the club had been in constant contact with Sparta Prague and Foreign and Commonwealth officials ahead of tomorrow night's UEFA Cup clash as reports surfaced of a security alert in the Czech Republic capital.

Supporters were advised yesterday to display caution in Prague after a club official warned of an apparently heightened stage of alert in the city. Police are congregating in greater numbers in the city centre streets after intelligence reports suggested the city could be the target of a terrorist attack, with synagogues and foreign embassy buildings named as sensitive areas by Jan Hala, a Sparta spokesman.

"Our secret services got information about a threat to our Israeli community," he said. "The area of concern is next to the main railway station where the Israeli Embassy is, and also in the old Jewish area of the city's old town."

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth office played down such fears, referring those intending to journey to Prague to the travel advice section on their website. The Czech Republic, it states, shares with every other country a threat from international terrorism, but no new specific guidelines have been issued.

With over 4,000 fans preparing to descend on the city, the Tynecastle club yesterday said there was no need to take any measures over and above the normal need to behave in decorous fashion.

"We have been in regular contact with Sparta Prague and the Foreign and Commonwealth office and we have been given no reason for alarm for either the team or fans," the spokesman said. "We are very relaxed."

Hearts are hoping to overturn a two-goal deficit after losing the first leg 2-0 at Murrayfield but this tall order has not acted to dampen enthusiasm, with many supporters already in Prague ahead of the team's arrival today.

Former Hearts midfielder Rudi Skacel yesterday backed his old side to defeat Sparta in his homeland tomorrow night.

The player, now with Southampton, only recently stopped wearing a Hearts wristband when in action for the St Mary's side, and he emphasised his feelings for his old club by talking up their chances of producing one of the great Scottish European comebacks.

"It's a long time since I played in the Czech league but I know some of the Sparta guys and they are good players," he said. "But I also know how good the Hearts players are and I am convinced they still have a chance of going through.

"Sparta went to Edinburgh and won 2-0, so why can't Hearts go to Prague and also win 2-0, and then take the game into extra-time?"

Taken from the Scotsman

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