We need a new home or risk our club sink­ing

Sons fear stay­ing put could lead to a‘cy­cle of de­cline’

Lennox Herald - - MAKING THE NEWS - An­drew McNair

Of­fi­cials at Dum­bar­ton FC in­sist they need a new sta­dium if they are to avoid a “cy­cle of de­cline” from which they may never re­cover.

The Sons is­sued the warn­ing in a let­ter to plan­ners in sup­port of a bid to build a new 4,000 seater sta­dium at Young’s Farm be­tween the town and Ren­ton.

They also sug­gested the plan was the best chance they have of ever re­turn­ing to the high­est level of Scot­tish foot­ball.

The club last com­peted in the top flight in the old first di­vi­sion in 1985 and are the only ex­ist­ing Scot­tish league cham­pi­ons never to have com­peted in the Scot­tish Pre­mier League.

They have writ­ten to West Dun­bar­ton­shire Coun­cil in sup­port of the con­tro­ver­sial bid to build the sta­dium and cre­ate new com­mu­nity sport fa­cil­i­ties – the ap­pli­ca­tion was orig­i­nally sub­mit­ted in May last year.

The board’s let­ter states: “Sig­nif­i­cant lev­els of spend­ing on re­pair and re­newal of our ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties over the next five years would mean less fi­nance avail­able for the foot­ball team, which would likely re­duce per­for­mance with the knock-on ef­fect of de­creas­ing fan at­ten­dance and as­so­ci­ated match-day rev­enue.

“If Dum­bar­ton re­main at Cas­tle Road there is a se­ri­ous risk of en­ter­ing a cy­cle of de­cline which would be very dif­fi­cult to re­verse.”

The let­ter adds: “The Board of Dum­bar­ton FC has a vi­sion of a suc­cess­ful, fi­nan­cially vi­able foot­ball club play­ing at the high­est vi­able and sus­tain­able level within Scot­tish foot­ball and con­tribut­ing as a re­li­able part­ner to the eco­nomic and so­cial well-be­ing of its com­mu­nity.

“In or­der to achieve this vi­sion, a larger sta­dium that has a greater range and qual­ity of in-sta­dium fa­cil­i­ties for the use of both the teams, sup­port­ers, busi­nesses and the com­mu­nity is re­quired.

“As a re­sult of work done since the last LDP re­view process, the club as­pires to a sta­dium which has the po­ten­tial to ac­com­mo­date up to 4,000 spec­ta­tors, along with rel­e­vant sta­dium re­lated in­fra­struc­ture and fa­cil­i­ties.

“If this ca­pac­ity and nec­es­sary pro­mo­tions can be achieved the team would be el­i­gi­ble to play in the Scot­tish Pre­mier League.

“Un­for­tu­nately, it is not pos­si­ble to achieve this vi­sion at our cur­rent lo­ca­tion, and it has be­come nec­es­sary to re­lo­cate the club from its present lo­ca­tion to de­velop a new sta­dium.”

The plan by the ap­pli­cant, Dum­bar­ton Com­mu­nity Foot­ball, is to fund the cre­ation of the po­ten­tial new £13.5 mil­lion fa­cil­ity with a 200 home res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment.

The club fol­lowed up that let­ter with a se­ries of public meet­ings and a writ­ten guar­an­tee to fans in a bid to get them be­hind the move.

The own­ers of Dum­bar­ton Foot­ball Club, a group of in­vestors known as Brabco, made six pledges to the club’s fans through the Son­strust, a reg­is­tered co­op­er­a­tive, ahead of a vote on whether the trust should give for­mal sup­port to the plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion for a new sta­dium de­vel­op­ment at Young’s farm.

It came af­ter a three-hour meet­ing of trust rep­re­sen­ta­tives with Brabco di­rec­tor Chris Stain­ton last Fri­day, and a Q&A ses­sion at the club’s sta­dium ahead of Dum­bar­ton’s game against Dun­fermline on Satur­day.

The as­sur­ances in­clude agree­ing to no ground share dur­ing re­lo­ca­tion process and the Trusts on­go­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion on the club’s board.

But not ev­ery­one agrees and at the end of 2017 an­other com­mu­nity coun­cil sub­mit­ted its for­mal ob­jec­tion.

Bon­hill and Dal­manoch Com­mu­nity Coun­cil ob­jected in a seven page let­ter to plan­ners – back­ing up a sim­i­lar ob­jec­tion from Sil­ver­ton and Over­toun Com­mu­nity Coun­cil.

Their let­ter con­cludes: “In our opin­ion, the en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial costs of this de­vel­op­ment far out­weigh any po­ten­tial eco­nomic ben­e­fits.”

The Rock Dum­bar­ton FCs cur­rent sta­dium in the shadow of Dum­bar­ton Rock

Youngs Farm Plans show the pro­pos­als for the new ground

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