OFFICIALS at Coldstream Football Club have unveiled plans to upgrade facilities at Home Park in order to retain full membership of the Scottish Football Association.
Among a raft of improvements needed, the club is proposing to erect a permanent two-metre-high perimeter fence round the top pitch in Home Park, creating the image of an enclosed and secure football ground on match days.
It hopes to start the work next summer, when the football season ends, and complete it all by 2015.
But before submitting a planning application, officials are aiming to win the support of local residents at a public meeting organised for 7.30pm at the St Cuthbert’s Centre on October 31.
Established in 1895, Coldstream Football Club is a founder member of the SFA and has retained its full membership ever since.
However, as part of a drive by the sport’s governing body to improve standards and facilities around the country, a new licensing scheme is being applied to all member clubs. Those who do not meet the criteria to obtain a new SFA license by 2015 will lose full membership status.
Full membership is worth at least £7,000 a year and allows Coldstream to participate in the early rounds of the Scottish Cup. But the club is warning that those and other benefits will be lost if it does not make the necessary improvements in the next three years.
That leaves Coldstream, and another 20 clubs throughout the country, with a lot of work to do and little time to do it.
The club needs to comply with 80 criteria to obtain a license, but officials believe more than 50 would be “easy” to meet. About 20 appear “achievable” and at little expense, while ten are described as “difficult” without major investment and physical changes.
Initial discussions with Scottish Borders Council have taken place over the feasibility of the club being granted a 21-year lease over the top pitch.
The perimeter fence would surround three sides of the top pitch, with the old school wall enclosing the area to the east. The club also wants to instal three gates: one an enhanced, “vintage-style”, metal gate at the Home Place entrance to the park; one at the south-east corner of the top pitch as the path begins to go downhill; and one in the bowling green corner overlooking the Parkside houses.
The club says the gates would be open to the public and council officials to pass through the park for the vast majority of a typical week.
Committee member Gerald Tait explained: “The SFA want us to create a secure football ground, but only on match days. The ‘secure football ground’ idea would only be applied in home matches during the course of a match, say for two hours, unless there is extra time.”
Among the other measures planned, the club hopes to erect a portable pitch fence within the confines of the perimeter fence and create a basic covered pavilion near the clubhouse so that supporters do not get wet on match days.
Several internal changes to the clubhouse are also required, as are improvements in football coaching, first-aid and medical certification.
The club states: “Our initial estimate of required investment in changes is between £60,000 and £80,000, which will be partly funded from club funds and from external funding.”