Groundtastic – Scots Scene – Spring 2004

Groundtastic – Scots Scene – Spring 2004

I watch a lot of YouTube videos in bed at night in an attempt to lull myself to sleep. I have mixed results with this tactic. It sometimes works if I am in the mood to listen to some soft rock, but most of the time I opt for punk rock bands of the 70’s or Britpop anthems from the 90’s.These tracks only serve to energise me, but last night I found myself having to make the conscious decision to turn off my tv in the wee small hours of the morning. I had been watching the vlogs of Footy Adventures, which I would heartily recommend to those of you who are interested in football stadiums and architecture.

I stopped watching one video where our knowledgeable guide was visiting all 42 football league grounds in Scotland. I did not want to switch this off, but if anyone needs their beauty sleep then it is me.

These vlogs reminded me of a series of articles that I was sharing with my blog readers, back in 2015/16.

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 Spring 2004 and it will be evident to ground enthusiasts and football fans just how much has changed from the era in which it was written…

To view the previous Scots Scene articles that I wrote in Winter 2002, Spring 2003, Summer 2003 and Autumn 2003, Winter 2003 click here.

Enjoy a short step back in time.


It now seems inevitable that HEARTS will be starting the 2004/05 season with a new home. Chief executive Chris Robinson has been underlining the need for Hearts to sell Tynecastle – to slash club debts of almost 18 million – and take residence at Murrayfield. The SFA have also warned Hearts that they have been having difficulty gaining consent for UEFA cup ties to be played at the old ground due to the limited pitch dimensions. In addition, there are concerns over Archibald Leitch’s Main Stand, which was built between 1914-1919. Structural engineers are worried about the internal steel beams, evacuation routes and the asbestos roof. This was all outlined in a 12-page document issued by the club entitled ‘Tynecastle: Not Fit For Purpose’.  However, not everyone is happy about the proposed move and don’t think all the viable options for staying at Tynecastle have been considered. Supporters were balloted by the Supporters Trust and a staggering 96% of fans wanted to stay at their spiritual home. Shareholder Robert McGrail even offered to buy the ground and lease it back to the club and just before going to press Edinburgh Rugby said they’d consider a groundshare if Edinburgh City Council knock down Meadowbank and persuade the government to build a new ground there. 

The SPL have introduced yet another barrier to First Division clubs hoping to win promotion – undersoil heating. League officials sent out a warning letter that stressed by the beginning of the 2004-05 season all clubs must have this facility. This will make it even more difficult for leading First Division clubs to comply with the strict rules of the SPL closed-shop. Clubs in the frame for promotion, such as CLYDE and INVERNESS CALEDONIAN THISTLE, have been busy building stands and making plans for temporary seating but these latest constrictions may be a bridge too far. Current SPL clubs DUNDEE and MOTHERWELL – who are both in administration – have also been ordered to install undersoil heating at an estimated cost of  £150,000. Both clubs have been threatened with ejection from the league if they fail to comply by the start of next season but this seems to be an empty threat as only ST JOHNSTONE can meet the criteria. The Saints are way off the promotion pace at the time of going to press.

When CLYDE played St Mirren at Broadwood Stadium in November a large number of supporters were stranded outside the ground as the match kicked off. Some fans also complained about a lack of segregation even though this Friday night game only attracted 1,811 spectators. Only the Main Stand was open but the biggest problem was that the majority of supporters arrived late and the turnstiles could not cope with their numbers before kick-off. All six turnstiles in the Main Stand were open but as some of these gates are dedicated to senior citizens, families and students only the distribution was not even. Subsequently, the Board of Directors at Clyde have decided to reallocate the use of their turnstiles to prevent such difficulties in the future. In a statement posted on the club’s official website, it was announced that: “turnstiles A, B and C, will be utilised for admission of visiting club supporters and turnstiles D, E and F by the home support. Turnstiles B and E will be dedicated to the use of concessionary admissions while season ticket holders will be able to use any of the 3 home turnstiles”. Meanwhile, the area for the use of away supporters in the Main Stand will be increased to ease fears over segregation.

At ST MIRREN’S Annual General Meeting in December, Chairman Stewart Gilmour advised shareholders that the Board of Directors would be unable to answer questions regarding future stadium development. Gilmour did however read a statement that suggests the wheels are in motion regarding a possible move away from St Mirren Park. “We are in discussions at present with Renfrewshire Council regarding the site in Greenhill Road as a possible site for our new stadium. It is fundamental to the project that planning consent for the change of use of the Love Street site for retail supermarket development is obtained. Active discussions are ongoing with connection to that and I earnestly ask you that it would not be in the best interests of St.Mirren Football Club Limited for me to make any comment or answer any questions on this subject. You can be assured that your Board of Directors are taking all due steps to secure supermarket redevelopment which would enable us to move to the new stadium and clear most of our debt.  Please accept that I have said that there are very good reasons why I can say no more at this stage and I hope you will understand that.” Gilmour also said that when plans regarding the stadium were finalised he would call a meeting for all St Mirren fans to attend.

Before Christmas the seats in the West Stand at St Mirren Park suddenly sported a new logo and accompanying text. Buddies Commercial Manager Campbell Kennedy takes up the story: “While I was in conversation with new Club Director Gordon Scott he enquired if any of the companies that sponsor the Stands at St Mirren Park had ever asked to have their name or logo put on the seats as well as the facia. I told him no,” explained Kennedy. “Gordon then asked how much it would cost to get his company name and logo on the West Stand seats and after negotiations we agreed a fee. This will see the Laidlaw Scott name and logo on the seats for the remainder of the season. The intention of this is to raise the awareness of the advertising opportunity, as this unique offer will be auctioned at the Club Dinner on 21st May at the Normandy Hotel. The highest bidder winning the right to have their company logo on the seats for next season,” concluded Kennedy.

ROSS COUNTY have lodged an outline planning application to build an SPL compliant stadium – in addition to community and business developments – at Victoria Park. Ross County Chairman, Roy MacGregor said of the plans, “We all know the criteria set by the SPL and although we might not entirely agree with it, these are the current rules and we need to be ready to deliver 10,000 seats if we manage to gain promotion at some point in the future,” said MacGregor. “We are also researching other options to generate income into the club and it is good that we have space within our Stadium to create further business opportunities,” concluded MacGregor.

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