Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale have expressed their bemusement after Championship league leaders St Mirren issued a statement regarding supporter safety ahead of this month’s Scottish Cup third-round tie at Saughton Enclosure.
The East of Scotland League champions will welcome the Paisley outfit to the Capital venue a fortnight on Saturday, having overcome SPFL League 2 side Stirling Albion in the previous round.
Lothian confirmed preparations are well under way to ensure all safety regulations are met, with over 1200 St Mirren fans expected to make the trip along the M8.
The club insists they have had regular dialogue with the likes of Police Scotland, City of Edinburgh Council, the SFA and St Mirren, with all parties in agreement that the match should go ahead as planned.
However, a club statement posted on Saints’ official website yesterday suggested otherwise.
The statement read: “We are very concerned that, as it stands, the ground is not suitable to safely accommodate the St Mirren support we expect to attend this game. We have expressed these concerns strongly to the SFA and they have assured us that they are happy with the plans being put in place to make sure there are no issues.
“There is very little parking available at the ground or surrounding area which is another concern. Where possible we would advise travelling by supporter’s bus or car-pooling to try and reduce the potential gridlock in the area surrounding the ground. We are also planning on running buses from the stadium details of which will be released shortly once we have parking information back from Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale.”
Lothian manager Raymond Carr was astonished to learn of his opponents’ reservations over staging the tie at Saughton.
“We had another meeting on Monday just there and everyone appeared in agreement, including St Mirren,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned everything went as well as expected. I think they’re thinking about things like what if it is bucketing of rain. Maybe one or two directors of the club are saying to themselves ‘oh where are we going to stand’? I don’t know. As long as we have the safety aspects in place, which we will do, then I don’t see what the problem is. Police Scotland are all happy with what is going to be put in place with regard to toilets and refreshment vans and what have you.
“All the information will be on the tickets informing St Mirren fans of what end of Saughton they have to come in at. Is it the venue they are used to? No it certainly isn’t. So I don’t know where this is coming from. They have already said they want to play at Saughton, their players and manager want to.
“What they should stop doing is trying to take the romantic side away from it. My guys can brag to their kids when they are older that they played St Mirren at Saughton in the Scottish Cup.”
The SFA confirmed to the Evening News that the game will go ahead at Saughton Enclosure on Saturday, November 18, with a 1pm kick off.