Berwick Rangers to look at possible site for new stadium

Brian Porteous, Chairman of Berwick Rangers.
Brian Porteous, Chairman of Berwick Rangers.

BERWICK Rangers are looking into the possibility of quitting their Shielfield Park home and moving to a new purpose-built stadium elsewhere in the town.

Chairman Brian Porteous, who broke the news to fans at the annual general meeting of the Rangers Supporters Trust at the weekend, said the plans are at ‘a very early stage,’ but it is something they are looking into.

Berwick have been based at Shielfield Park since 1954-55 when they moved there from their previous base at neighbouring Old Shielfield.

Speaking after the meeting Porteous said: “Shielfield is an old stadium and we realise it is not ideally suited to our needs. It is not going to be around for ever and one day will probably need a lot of money spent on it.

“We are planning to conduct a feasibility survey to see how viable an option of moving to an alternative site in the town would be, but I would stress this is at a very early stage and no definite decision has been made.”

A potential site has been identified on land less than a mile away from Shielfield between the Tesco supermarket in Tweedmouth and the A1 Berwick bypass at East Ord.

Negotiations have been opened with a local farmer with a view to pricing the land and Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith, who is a regular visitor to games, has been asked to source possible areas of grant funding.

It is believed that a new, smaller, compact stadium, with an all-weather playing surface, would cost somewhere in the region of £4m.

Only last year Berwick looked into buying back Shielfield from the owners, Northumberland County Council, but the cost, believed to be around £2m, was deemed too prohibitive.

In the meantime, Berwick are to press ahead with plans to upgrade the current facilities at Shielfield.

Last year the changing rooms and shower areas were completely renovated and earlier this summer work was carried out to the boardroom and to provide a new pre-match dining suite, named after former player-manager Eric Tait, who is the club’s all-time record goal scorer and player who made most appearances in a black and gold shirt.

Porteous also revealed that for the second year running Berwick made a profit on the financial year ended May 2012. Figures which will be presented to the next club AGM will show a profit of £11,600, which the chairman said was ‘tremendous news.’

“Over the past few years we have managed to turn things around quite well,” he said.

“We have to treat running a football club like any other business and that meant we couldn’t carry on recording losses year after year. If we did that we would soon be out of business.”

Berwick’s situation was helped with the sale of Paul Currie to Hamilton last season.