Craigroyston FC on the brink as East of Scotland club set to be closed down over financial constraints

East of Scotland side faces closure over spiralling costs of playing football in Capital

Friday, 29th November 2019, 10:57 am
Updated Friday, 29th November 2019, 11:37 am
St Mark's Park, home of Craigroyston, and (inset) Craigie in action against Dunipace

A popular city football club closing for good after more than 40 years has blamed the spiralling costs of playing amateur football in the Capital for forcing it to the wall.

Craigroyston Football Club, based at St Mark's Park in the Warriston area of the city, will close down at the end of the current season after club chiefs agreed that running costs were no longer manageable.

Pitch maintenance, a loss of sponsorship money and most importantly the cost of training have been cited as the main reasons behind the club’s difficult decision.

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Bob Currie pictured at St Mark's Park

The committee published an emotional message on their Twitter page which said: “It is with a heavy heart that the committee have reluctantly agreed to close the club down at the end of this season. This is due totally to the running costs of the club. The falling income and rising costs are not sustainable to the running of the club.

"This decision was not taken lightly. We'd like to say a huge thank you to Jordyn [Sheerin, manager] and the players for agreeing to continue to fulfil our remaining fixtures."

The club, founded in 1976 by former Eyemouth United manager Rab Melrose, has twice won the East of Scotland First Division, and in the early 1990s won the Alex Jack Cup and the King Cup. However, they currently sit bottom of the table with no wins from 16 games and just two points.

Craigroyston have also been targeted twice in the last 12 months by vandals, with yobs damaging the dugouts in February and again in September, and leaving smashed glass bottles on the playing surface in the latter incident.

The news comes off the back of the recent ‘Sporting Chance’ campaign run by the Edinburgh Evening News, aimed at ensuring accessibility to grassroots sport is a reality for all Capital residents.

'Heartbreaking' decision

Bob Currie, 67, Craigroyston committee member for almost 15 years, said: “This is a heartbreaking decision to have to make. We have had some members on the committee for over 40 years who have dedicated a part of their life to the club.

“The cost of training twice a week is costing around £600 a month which is just not manageable. Our sponsorship money has fallen year-on-year as small businesses who have backed us in the past also struggle with rising costs. It also costs us around £3,500 a season to be able to keep on top of the pitch and ensure that it is playable.

“We will not be the last club to fold due to rising costs and at this time you question where the backing from government, local authority and the SFA is to be found.”

Goalkeeper Stuart Burnside, who spent four years with the club over two spells and captained the side last term, added: "It's really, really sad to hear that it's come to this for Craigroyston.

"I thoroughly enjoyed both my spells at the club and had great success winning the league in my first season.

"There are a lot of good people at the club who work tirelessly to keep it going, and it's them I feel for the most.

"Hopefully something can be done to save the club."

The team consists of mostly working-class players and the recent news raises a point that is often touted by the Observatory for Sport in Scotland (OSS), about a trend emerging where those in deprived areas struggle to access grassroots sport.

The East of Scotland FA issued a statement reading: "Extremely sorry to hear this news. If it is the end of the road for Craigroyston it will be a sad loss to our football environment - a much-admired club, as reflected in the comments."

Community sport model in Scotland is 'broken'

David Ferguson, OSS executive director, said: “We heard at the Summit from Glasgow Life’s director of sport and events, Billy Garrett, that the model of community sport and leisure facility management and delivery in Scotland is broken.

“Other leisure trust chiefs told us they will definitely be closing facilities in 2020 because they have no money left to run them, and charges are already too high, and one told me he fears his trust – a major charitable company with millions of pounds in turnover and managing major Scottish assets – and others, will be bankrupt entirely in the next two-three years.”

An Edinburgh Leisure spokesperson said: ‘It’s no secret that the council has significant funding challenges and they are responsible for setting the cost of hiring pitches in the school estate.

“No-one likes to see any club fold and Edinburgh Leisure’s vision is to continue to deliver on the ambition to inspire everyone in Edinburgh to be active, to be healthy and to enjoy moving.

“We will continue to strive to improve our performance and to protect and develop services for our customers, the community and the city.”