FC Edinburgh chairman Jim Brown admits club still don't have a move-in date for redeveloped Meadowbank

It's been anything but plain sailing for the board of directors at the now newly-named FC Edinburgh since securing promotion to League One five weeks ago.
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The jubilation etched on the faces of all those connected with the Capital outfit on that historic night in Annan must feel a distant memory for chairman Jim Brown.

Clinching a berth in Scottish football's third tier and welcoming the likes of Dunfermline, Falkirk and Queen of the South back to their spiritual home next season - the redeveloped Meadowbank - is sure to get the juices flowing among Citizens supporters.

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However, there's still one major stumbling block to navigate.

FC Edinburgh, formerly Edinburgh City, won promotion to League One but are still awaiting a date to move back into the redeveloped Meadowbank. Picture: Mark Scates / SNS Group.FC Edinburgh, formerly Edinburgh City, won promotion to League One but are still awaiting a date to move back into the redeveloped Meadowbank. Picture: Mark Scates / SNS Group.
FC Edinburgh, formerly Edinburgh City, won promotion to League One but are still awaiting a date to move back into the redeveloped Meadowbank. Picture: Mark Scates / SNS Group.

The council and Edinburgh Leisure have obtained their keys to the front doors of the £47million venue on London Road. FC Edinburgh's, however, have still to be cut.

In a further hiccup the club's approved planning permission for a new 1500 stand, to accommodate the 499-seated main stand, is also in jeopardy after a housing developer contested a small piece of land situated just metres from where the new stand is set to be built.

Brown provided an update last night via Facebook live on when the club intend to move back into their new home. A glamour friendly against city rivals Hibs had also been pencilled in for Wednesday, July 6 as a homecoming, but that fixture has now been postponed over the uncertainty surrounding an opening date.

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Suffice to say, the chairman admits the whole saga has been nothing short of farcical as the weeks and months have rolled on.

"We are the third link in the chain, behind the council and Edinburgh Leisure when it comes to the new stadium," he explained. "It's been widely publicised that the stadium is due to open in time for the school holidays, which is July 1. But that's now been pushed back until at least July 11 so the friendly against Hibs is off. But that's another loss in revenue for us because Hibs had assured us we could keep all the money from ticket sales.

"We've now been told there are still some snagging issues with the stadium so we got an email on Wednesday saying that June Peebles, the CEO of Edinburgh Leisure, will make an announcement next Tuesday. Why has it been delayed even further? We need to let the SPFL know because if the stadium isn't going to open until August, then we've got a problem with the new season just around the corner.

"The staff at Meadowbank, when we have been allowed in, are absolutely fantastic, but the hierarchy are just unbelievable. I think they must think we're just playing in a pub league - it's the SPFL, we can't muck people about. Once it is open it's going to be a fantastic facility. Moving up to League One we're going to get some decent crowds which is going to help us on the pitch because that is how we get our revenue.

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"But we need to get in there first. Someone needs to take control of this whole situation, and hopefully with the new council regime in place, they will make a better job than the last one and work towards helping us in our goal of giving the people of Edinburgh a sports stadium to be proud of."

He continued: "Planning permission for the new stand was granted in April but after the contract was awarded to the housing developer, they then came back and said that they didn't want to give us this small bit of land at the back of the stand.

"We were gobsmacked, so much so that one commented we could build the stand first but then would have to take it down again when they started building the houses. You couldn't make it up really. So the whole project has been paused just now. We don't know when or if we're going to be able to build the new stand. We've been emailing back and forward, had meeting after meeting but nothing moves. It's a real shame.

"The issue with Meadowbank, the name change of the club and everything else that has been going on, it has been more hectic than it is during the season, but it's the nature of the job."

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Brown was eventually able to move off the topic of Meadowbank and offered some encouragement regarding Alan Maybury's playing squad. Despite some strong competition from other potential suitors, last season's play-off hero Innes Murray has agreed a two-year deal.

The 24-year-old midfielder spent the 2021/2022 campaign on loan from Hibs and was instrumental in steering the club to promotion via the play-offs, netting twice in the 3-2 aggregate victory over Annan in the final.

Brown said: "Innes had a lot of clubs after him so it was a hard deal to get done, but we've now managed to retain every player from last season's squad who the manager wanted to keep. Innes officially leaves Hibs on June 30 but we've got him on a pre-contract so he'll be back in on Monday to start pre-season. It's great for us to get him back so I want to thank him and his agent as it's been a hard slog but we've got there.

"I think it's testament to the players who see what we're trying to do at this club, what we're trying to build and the ethos. Innes is a big coup for us so it makes us feel as if we must be doing something right."