A BUYER has been found to take on the long-awaited revamp of the derelict Raeburn House Hotel, but plans for a new clubhouse for Scotland’s oldest rugby team have been left in doubt.
The Stockbridge hotel was originally due to be refurbished and extended on to Edinburgh Academicals Rugby Club land, with the team getting new facilities in return.
However, Festival Inns – the former owner of the hotel – went into administration and the 19th century building was put up for sale.
It is understood Borders motor tycoon Archie Maclean has now paid £1.5 million for the hotel but agreed to the deal with administrators KPMG without the Accies clause.
Sources close to the club said that meant they would have to continue to operate out of two temporary buildings, and potentially look away from their historic home in the future.
The original plan would have seen Festival Inns take on land of the former clubhouse to extend the hotel.
The firm would then have funded the building of a replacement clubhouse, comprising six changing rooms, a weights room, office and social club. As a result, the old building was bulldozed and portable cabins brought in.
A club source told the Evening News: “At the time it seemed like a perfect arrangement. The pub game was making a lot of money and no-one could see it going the other way.
“But that’s what happened, and although there is a bar at the cabins, the club will probably have to look elsewhere in the area for something a bit better.”
The famous ground hosted the first ever rugby international, between Scotland and England, in 1871.
Club member Jason Parrott said: “We don’t know too much about it just now. I suppose there’s not really been a deal on the table since Festival Inns went into administration.”
Mr Maclean, who is based in St Boswells, built up the Border Motor Group, which has outlets in Scotland and the north of England.
It is understood he will run Raeburn House – a B-listed building – as a hotel, but he is remaining tight lipped for now on his long-term plans.
He told the Evening News today: “I can confirm the purchase.”
When asked about the prospect of new facilities for the club, he said: “The deal’s only just been done, I’m not in a position to give any more factual information at the moment.”
KPMG today confirmed the new terms of the sale meant there was no obligation to rebuild the clubhouse.