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 Tuesday, 21 January, 2003, 17:50 GMT
Angry Shire blast council
Firs Park: home of East Stirlingshire
East Stirlingshire want to move away from Firs Park
East Stirlingshire chairman Alan Mackin has threatened legal action unless Falkirk Council give his club as much help as they have to Falkirk in creating a new stadium.

Mackin was speaking during a stormy Lesley Riddoch Show on BBC Radio Scotland examining plans for Falkirk's new, 7,000-seat stadium.

Third Division Shire had their proposal to help upgrade Grangemouth Stadium in Falkirk's neighbouring town turned down by the local authority.

And Mackin rejected overtures by Falkirk chairman Campbell Christie to enter negotiations for ground-sharing at Westfield.

Mackin, who played for Falkirk for four years, said: "There are 90 people paying to watch East Stirlingshire, so why would we want to play in a 7,000 to 10,000 seat stadium?"

First Division leaders Falkirk need a 10,000-seat stadium to meet Scottish Premier League requirements, although it will be built too late to allow them to gain promotion this season unless they can find a way to challenge that ruling.

"I wanted to move our club down to Grangemouth and give our club a fresh start," said Mackin.

Mackin had promised that his club would invest 500,000 in the athletics stadium there to upgrade the seating and make it available for community use in return for a 25-year lease.

I wanted to move our club down to Grangemouth and give our club a fresh start

Alan Mackin
East Stirlingshire chairman
"If the council do not treat us in the same way that Falkirk FC are being treated, we will take out a judicial revue into the council's decision to bail out Falkirk," he said.

Objectors, such as Dominic Ward, told the radio show that they were unhappy that public money was going to help a football club that had "gone bust twice in 10 years".

He argued that a third of the 9m generated from the sale of Falkirk's present Brockville Stadium to the Morrison supermarket chain would go to paying off the club's debts.

But Council leader David Alexander stressed that the council's three-eighths ownership of Brockville was worth mere thousands unless it was sold for development.

"By forming a partnership with Falkirk Football Club, we are not only releasing 6m to invest into sporting facilities in this area, but we also allow a development that will bring 350 jobs to the Brockville site," he said.

Alexander pointed out that the council had also agreed to a 1.25m investment for Grangemouth Stadium.

Christie added that East Stirlingshire were welcome to renew negotiations about ground sharing and that other sports would also benefit from the Westfield development.

But Falkirk shareholder and objector Robert Menzies said: "The council is the major investor, but the football club is dictating what goes into a community stadium."

Menzies also claimed that the council had ploughed roughshod over greenbelt restrictions for the Westfield site.

He said that council reports had originally recommended Middlefield as the preferred site for the stadium and that Asda supermarkets had offered to build a stadium there for free.

Links to more Scotland stories are at the foot of the page.


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