Groundtastic – Scots Scene – Summer 2005

Groundtastic – Scots Scene – Summer 2005

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 Summer 2005 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, Autumn 2003, Winter 2003, Spring 2004, Summer 2004, Autumn 2004, Winter 2004 and Spring 2005, click here.

Enjoy a short step back in time.


At the time of writing it is still not clear what sort of surface DUNFERMLINE ATHLETIC will be playing on next season. After persevering with a widely criticised synthetic surface at East End Park since September 2003, The Pars decided to replace it – with another one.  The old surface was ripped up after the home game with Hearts on March 5 and replaced with a new, superior artificial turf – imported from Canada – before the visit of Hibernian on March 19. According to William Gaillard, director of communications at UEFA: “Only a cow could tell between real grass and the new generation turf.”

However, not everyone is convinced about the merits of artificial turf and Dundee United chairman Eddie Thompson proposed a motion to have artificial surfaces banned from the SPL.  In addition, Rangers manager Alex McLeish suggested that clubs that used them could end up being sued by players who pick up injuries on the surface. The SPL member clubs met on March 10 and voted 9-3 to back the motion to give the league’s executive board the power of veto. It means that the Pars had to apply for permission from the executive committee to use their current surface next season – if they avoid relegation from the SPL. However, Dundee United and Rangers make up two of the five-man board and are strongly against artificial surfaces while Kilmarnock and League chairman Lex Gold have expressed reservations. Only Hibernian appears to be in favour of artificial surfaces. The board will give a decision by July 1 at the latest.

Dunfermline have promised to appeal to the Scottish FA if the SPL bans artificial surfaces as it would cost the club – that is already £7m in debt – approximately £400,000 to returf on top of the revenue they will lose by returning to a grass surface.

HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN will be playing at Tynecastle for the foreseeable future – and maybe longer. Vladimir Romanov completed his takeover of the Jambos in February and transferred most of the club’s £17.6m debt from the Bank of Scotland to UKIO Bankas, which he partly owns. This enabled the Edinburgh club to pull out of the £20m sale of Tynecastle to Cala Management as agreed at the club’s extraordinary general meeting in January.

While describing Romanov as a ‘white knight’, Hearts chairman George Foulkes warned that Tynecastle may still have to be sold: “Tynecastle as it currently exists clearly cannot continue because we are losing money year after year. We can now look at the redevelopment of Tynecastle to see if by introducing greater corporate facilities and commercial activity it can be made viable. If not we have the option of moving to a purpose-built stadium somewhere else,” warned Foulkes.

However, several different options are being explored including the demolition of the McLeod Street Stand to be replaced by a new curved main stand housing offices, hospitality units and a luxury hotel – a clear sign that Romanov is making efforts to keep Hearts at their spiritual home.

First Division champions FALKIRK will play in the SPL next season after receiving a safety certificate for the new North Stand just in time to meet the March 31 SPL deadline for a 6,000-seat stadium to be in place. The news sees the end of several seasons of frustration, when the Club was denied a place in the top flight due to the inability to meet the stadium criteria set out by the SPL. The new North Stand takes the Stadium capacity to 6,200, and was in operation for the first time on April 9 as the Bairns took on Ross County. The new-look Falkirk Stadium will be L-shaped, with its two stands for next season, but it is planned to eventually have four seating areas in place, with a capacity of around 10,000.


QUEEN OF THE SOUTH has unveiled plans to upgrade Palmerston Park to SPL standards. Planning applications were lodged in March for two new stands behind either goal, which will increase the ground’s capacity to more than 6,000.  It is hoped work will begin this summer with the demolition of the Portland Drive end enclosure (thought to be the largest remaining covered terrace in Scotland) and the construction of a 1434 all seater stand. Once completed, an identical stand will be constructed at the Terregles Street end of the ground, which is currently unused. Behind each stand will be office accommodation and ample car parking facilities. The new stands will cost about £5m but they will house community facilities, which should enable the club to attract council and lottery funding.

Other works at Palmerston include a new access road, new floodlighting columns, a new police control room and a Groundsman’s compound. At the time of going to press, Queen of the South still awaited Council approval for these improvements. Thanks go to Graham Crofts for providing information on the Palmerston project.


Renfrewshire Council’s planning board met on May 24 – after we went to press – to discuss ST MIRREN’S plans to sell St Mirren Park for retail development. The club have submitted planning application for the sale of their ground to a supermarket for £10m, which will fund a prospective new stadium at Greenhill Road in North Paisley. However, with council members concerned about the introduction of a major retail site in Love Street, planning permission was not a foregone conclusion.

This is particularly concerning as Buddies chairman Stewart Gilmour has warned the club are in danger of going out of business unless permission is granted. If not, the Paisley outfit would be forced to sell for housing for only £4.3m, which would leave them with no stadium and no means of buying a new one, according to Gilmour. Clydesdale Bank, the club’s major creditor, has given them until 31 May to pay off a £700,000 overdraft.

Despite all the fuss caused by Dunfermline’s pitch, EAST FIFE are hoping to find funding for a synthetic surface at New Bayview stadium. Chairman Derrick Brown said: “Funding provided, we are definitely committed to laying an astro-turf surface and are well down the road. Due to the costs involved, it is definitely a preference to have the surface on the main pitch and it is hoped it could be done for the start of the 2006-20007 season,” added Brown.

EAST STIRLINGSHIRE will play at Firs Park until at least the end of the 2005/2006 season, as the conditional contract for the sale of Firs Park has not yet been confirmed. According to a club statement “the board is still committed to finding a solution to the issue of a permanent and financially viable home for the club”.

The Third Division strugglers had agreed to sell Firs Park to Ogilvie Homes for £1.6m but it is thought the deal has floundered because the sewerage capacity around the ground is insufficient for the number of homes proposed. This was always a controversial proposal as club chairman Alan Mackin wanted to sell the club’s only asset, and distribute the bulk of the proceeds to the shareholders without building a new stadium and subsequently failing to safeguard the future of the club.  Mackin, the major shareholder, was attempting to overcome the voting system of the club, which limits the power of a large block of shares, by distributing a large number of shares among friends and family.

In response to this threat to the future of the club, East Stirlingshire supporters have set up shiretrust. For more information visit

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