Between 2002-2008 I was Scottish Correspondent for the wonderfully professional Groundtastic – The Football Grounds Magazine. I can not speak highly enough of the editors and contributors to this glossy magazine that is jam-packed with interesting information and photographic gold.
I haven’t been a subscriber to the magazine since my marriage imploded in 2008 and I was forced to leave Scotland. Since then my dexterity has deteriorated to such an extent that I now find it impossible to simply thumb through a magazine.
Imagine my excitement then when I visited the Groundtastic website to discover that they now have a digital edition available 🙂 I’ll definitely be subscribing.
Anyway, over the next few months I will be sharing a number of articles that I penned during my time North of the Border, including my regular Scots Scene news round-up of potential football ground developments and improvements. The following is from Winter 2002 and it will be evident to ground enthusiasts and football fans just how much has changed from the era in which it was written…
Enjoy a short step back in time.
THE SCOTTISH Executive has decided to launch a public enquiry into Aberdeen’s proposed 30,000 seat stadium on farm land at Kingswells. Local residents have complained about the proposals, which – they claim – breach green belt policy and other planning rules. The inquiry is expected to delay the final decision by at least nine months and puts a question mark over Aberdeen’s inclusion in Scotland’s joint application with Ireland to host the 2008 European Championships, of which Kingswells is a part.
Meanwhile, Aberdeen has launched a new personal food service for its vegetarian supporters at Pittodrie. The meat free options available in the Richard Donald and Merkland Stands are now provided in the South and Main Stands. What’s more, supporters can phone or e-mail their order for a vegetarian snack, pay for it over the phone and collect it at half-time.
SPL clubs are not permitted to share grounds but Dundee and Dundee United have applied to the league bosses for special dispensation. The Tayside pair are looking to share a stadium as part of Scotland’s and Ireland’s joint Euro 2008 bid.
WORK has begun on a Football Academy for Heart of Midlothian at Heriot-Watt University. This exciting project jointly funded by Hearts and the university – along with a £1 million award from the Lottery Fund – will be completed in just under 12 months time and include a floodlit synthetic pitch, an indoor pitch, new changing rooms and offices for the Hearts coaching staff. In addition, there will be a major refurbishment of the main competition pitch, which will also be floodlit.
SPL NEWCOMERS Partick Thistle are doing well in their first season back in the top division and this could lead to redevelopment of Firhill, as discussed at the AGM. Chairman Brown McMaster said that if The Jags live to fight another season in the top flight, the intention is to extend the North Stand to its conclusion. This would result in 600 extra seats, which would cover any loss suffered if the club is forced to close their wooden Main Stand – surely only a matter of time. McMaster added that the Board of Directors would also consider development of the south end of the ground – depending on Thistle’s fortunes.
WORK IS complete on Arbroath’s new main stand, which was open for the home match against Falkirk at the beginning of October. The club has also installed a new PA system, with loudspeakers in all the enclosures and improved toilet facilities. To help pay for the improvements, supporters are being invited to make a lifetime reservation of a seat in the home section of the redeveloped stand. For just £250 they will be guaranteed use of ‘their’ seat for every match for the rest of their life. The Gayfield Sign, which was displayed above the tunnel for many years, has also been auctioned on the club’s website. The 6ft x 2ft sign was eventually sold for £250.
AYR UNITED’s future plans were dealt a blow when planning permission was denied for a new stadium at Heathfield. This means The Honest Men will have to settle for an upgrade of their current home at Somerset Park – very much a second choice option.
PLANNING PERMISSION has been granted to build a supermarket, petrol station and access roads on Brockville – home of Falkirk. The Bairns now need to ratify their plans with the council before they can push ahead with the planned 7,000 all-seater Community Stadium at Westfield, which will fall short of the 10,000 seat criteria for admission to the SPL. Falkirk hope to prove that this rule is flawed due to a decrease in attendance’s throughout Scotland but are prepared to build a 3,000 seat temporary stand should SPL bosses fail to see reason.
INVERNESS CALEDONIAN THISTLE are locked in talks with a supermarket chain regarding the possibility of selling Caledonian Stadium. The Highland club is currently pushing for promotion to the SPL, where ground criteria stipulates the provision of at least 10,000 seats. Caledonian Stadium can currently only boast a capacity of 6,500 (2,200 seats) and as a result ICT would be barred from entering the top flight. Subsequently, the Caley Jags can either sell it’s ground and relocate to a purpose built, all-seater stadium – possibly in the Bught Park area – or develop the area around the ground and redevelop their current stadium. At the moment, the former seems the more likely option.
ST MIRREN are ANOTHER club poised to sell its ground to an English supermarket chain and wipe out the majority of their crippling debts. This news has come as a shock to fans of the Paisley club as the facts have only just been revealed, with a deal seemingly imminent. If this move comes off – the only stumbling block appears to be getting planning permission from Renfrewshire Council for development on Love Street – then St Mirren will probably find themselves playing at a still to be confirmed venue in the heart of Ferguslie Park.