Home improvements as Lothian Thistle aim for professional set-up

A COMMITTEE on behalf of Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale Football Club have submitted a proposal in a bid to have their ambitious plans for redeveloping Saughton Enclosure approved – and hope to have the project in motion by 2014.

Wednesday, 11th April 2012, 1:00 pm

A detailed forecast involving a number of ‘mini’ projects have been provided for consideration, which includes the construction of a 500-seat grandstand, new changing and toilet facilities, turnstiles and footpath and fencing also to be upgraded.

Club leader, Tam Smith, believes this detailed development strategy can bring a new generation of sport to a location close to the club’s heart.

“Saughton Enclosure is synonymous with the club, so it is where we wanted to pursue.” Smith said. “But we are very keen on making the area better for the benefit of a number of sports and not just football, so it would serve the whole community. It will be a different model to what Spartans have, for example, as it won’t be brand new, but it could be run in a similar manner. It would take us to that next platform if things do go ahead because as a community sports club, we don’t want to run the risk of being left behind.”

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With initial estimates completed with regards to the reconstruction and development work, the club hopes to build on its relationship with the City of Edinburgh Council, among other parties of interest, and continue the progress which has already been made over the next few months.

Smith admits the contributions of Spartans FC, who have also benefitted enormously from their new purpose-built facility, have brought great support to the table.

“We have had several meetings with the council and Edinburgh Leisure where a lease has been agreed in principal. This is a conditional lease at the moment, however, as there are still a few things to sort out before this can be clarified. We’re also making steady progress on the business plan and the people we have been dealing with have been very helpful. It’s great that Spartans and ourselves can help each other.”

The amalgamation of Lothian Thistle and Hutchison Vale for the start of the 2011/2012 season has not only achieved a long-term ambition for one of the country’s most prestigious youth clubs by attaining East of Scotland League status, it has also helped the club move a step closer to acquiring the all-clear for installing a more professional infrastructure. Smith said: “We want to have a base we can call home and obtain SFA membership. It would be great for us to be involved in the Scottish Cup like Spartans and Edinburgh City have been in the last few years. In the past, our players have represented the club until the age of 21, but are then free to go wherever they like. More often than not, they end up at a Junior or East of Scotland side, so this has certainly been a worthwhile investment.”

The athletics track around the perimeter of the main football pitch is another feature the club will look to restore back to its original best. Keen athletes of both Harmony and Corstorphine Athletics Clubs regularly use the facility, and Smith reinforces the committee’s desire to aid the development of those individuals, which he hopes will help the aspiring stars in reaching their full potential.

He added: “I don’t believe there are enough athletics facilities within the city, so what we’re trying to do is turn it into a venue which would be capable of hosting small athletics meetings. It would be great to have the track events, long and high jump, and pole vault, so that’s what we are aiming for.

“With the social issues regarding the youth today, there has to be a correlation between these problems and a lack of investment in sport and recreational facilities. So we must start investing, which is what we are hoping to do.”