Edinburgh City are unlikely to return to a redeveloped Meadowbank Stadium unless changes are made to the current planning application to ensure the ground is compliant with SPFL entry criteria.
The League Two club’s inaugural season in the Scottish professional leagues was their last at the old Commonwealth Stadium before it was closed for redevelopment towards the end of 2017.
City entered a groundsharing agreement with Capital rivals Spartans that has seen them playing at Ainslie Park since the beginning of this season, with the arrangement expected to last until the end of the 2019/20 campaign.
However, that may have to be extended after the planning application submitted for the redevelopment of Meadowbank did not comply with the specifications required of SPFL member clubs.
League Two clubs must meet the criteria required for a entry level Scottish FA club licence. While the proposed capacity of 500 for a new pitch-side stand at Meadowbank would comply with this, the club believes the size and layout of the proposed stand would not suit their needs, while a single entry turnstile falls foul of regulations.
City, who first started playing at Meadowbank over 20 years ago, also have concerns that the size of the players and officials’ changing facilities fall short of the licensing requirements, as would the lack of provision for a pitch perimeter barrier.
Current committee member and former chairman Jim Lumsden has represented the club in meetings with Edinburgh City Council and is hopeful changes can be made, but admitted the current plans are likely to be submitted as is.
“It’s really up to the council if they can make some changes but it looks like the plans are what the plans are,” he said. “I’m not aware that a lot of changes are going to be made but we’ll just have to wait and see.
“I’m planning on meeting with the council again and we’ve met with them on several occasions over the last few years. It’s been clear that we had to include things that gets us inside licensing criteria but when we first started talking with the council, we weren’t an SPFL club so it’s grown arms and legs on both sides since then. At the moment, it doesn’t look great for us.
“We’d love to go back to Meadowbank with history the club’s got there. A third Edinburgh league club has played there since the 70s and the fact that it’s a really good location that’s served well by buses and has easy access from Waverley Station means it’s good for visiting supporters as well.
“Hopefully, we can put something together and there might be some rethinks on some of the designs, which would help us.”
The club released statement today which read: “Edinburgh City Football Club has been one of the principal users of Meadowbank over the past 21 years and, indeed, it was during this time that the club secured its historic promotion to the Scottish Professional Football League. Whilst representatives of the club have met with City of Edinburgh Council on a number of occasions to discuss the proposed redevelopment of Meadowbank, the planning application submitted to the Council does not, as it currently stands, reflect the requirements of a member club of the Scottish Professional Football League or the Club’s aspirations for the future.
“In particular, the proposed 500 capacity spectator stand and single turnstile are insufficient to accommodate the level of attendance which has been achieved at many of the Club’s home League and Cup games in recent seasons. Furthermore, it is the Club’s view that the provision of just three rows of seating will offer a very poor viewing experience for spectators, while there is no obvious provision of a pitch perimeter barrier separating the spectator stand from the running track and playing field.
“The proposed changing facilities for players and match officials are also of concern and do not reflect the space requirements of modern day Professional Football Clubs and refereeing teams. In addition, the failure to provide standalone changing facilities for players and match officials would result in them mixing with other Sports Centre users in the circulation areas before, during and after games which is simply not practical.
“In closing, the Club would be happy to discuss its concerns with Officers at a mutually convenient time, however unless significant amendments are made to the current proposals it is highly unlikely that the Club would be in a position to return to the new Meadowbank at the end of its current ground share agreement with Spartans Community Football Academy at Ainslie Park Stadium.”