THE multi-million pound transformation of a historic sports ground has been delayed after bosses failed to secure the necessary funding.
The Raeburn Place Foundation (RPF) wants to redevelop the Edinburgh Accies’ ground in Stockbridge – the site of the world’s first international rugby union match between Scotland and England.
But construction work, which was due to start this summer, has now been pushed back until next May after club chiefs fell short of the money needed to start building.
More than £2.5 million out of a target of £7.7m has so far been secured, with a further £500,000 in commitments.
But with more than £4m left to raise, bosses have appointed third-sector experts Bruce Tait Associates (BTA) to lead a fresh fundraising drive on an interim basis.
Planning permission has been granted for a rugby pitch and 2500-seat stand alongside bars, shops and even a museum.
David Newlands, chairman of the RPF, said: “We’re delighted to have the knowledge and experience of Bruce Tait Associates on board.
“They are recognised leaders in the field of capital fundraising programmes and they will lead the fundraising efforts with immediate effect, while simultaneously recruiting a full-time capital campaign director for our fundraising programme.
“This will ensure we don’t lose momentum in the short term and that we have time to consider and make the right appointment for the medium term.
“The fundraising programme for the redevelopment of Raeburn Place has raised more than £3m so far. We have made good progress, but unfortunately not enough to enable us to start the works this summer, as we had originally planned.”
The £16m Edinburgh Accies’ development was at the centre of controversy earlier this year over the ownership of a two-foot-wide strip of land in front of the grounds.
As well as hosting the first ever international rugby union match in 1871, it was also the site of the first Calcutta Cup match between Scotland and England eight years later.
Abeer Macintyre, of Bruce Tait Associates, said: “We are proud and privileged to be working for such an exciting, ambitious and worthwhile cause.
“I am personally delighted to have the opportunity to lead the Raeburn Place fundraising programme over the coming months. This famous sports ground has a rich heritage and the Foundation’s plans to recreate a valuable part of Scotland’s history and also open it up to the whole community for wider benefit makes this a doubly exciting and worthy cause. I am confident we can accelerate the good progress achieved to date and support the drive to get the redevelopment work under way next May as planned”.