City hope for Council agreement on ambitious community plan

Elgin City have ambitious plans for Lesser Borough Briggs.
Elgin City have ambitious plans for Lesser Borough Briggs.

ELGIN CITY FOOTBALL CLUB are hoping that an investment bid to increase the scope of their existing Community Programme will receive favour at Moray Council.

The club are set to seek a ten-year lease on Lesser Borough Briggs, the land alongside the club’s existing stadium, so that they can provide much improved facilities – and end the current situation where they are having to use pitches as far away as Aberlour.

At a recent committee meeting councillors expressed their concerns over the lack of such facilities in Elgin – and were clearly unhappy when told by officials that the new pitches being prepared at Deanshaugh were not required, as sufficient pitches were already available in the town.

That statement from council officials was hotly disputed, with councillors pointing out that the existing provision was nowhere close to be sufficient – and highlighting how Elgin City’s Community Programme were having to use facilities in Speyside.

“It was said in the Council chamber that the only reason we had to go out of Elgin was because we wanted to use artificial surfaces rather than grass,” City chairman Graham Tatters told insideMoray, adding: “I was pleased then that councillors at least did recognise that was simply not the case – we have to do this because there are simply not enough grass pitches available in Elgin.

Graham Tatters - ambitious plans
Graham Tatters – Council halted Soccer 7s and Football 4s development.

“Our Community Programme has been growing at a tremendous level and we want to do all we can to promote health and fitness for young people in Elgin – but to do that we have to see some cooperation from Moray Council, we have to see a willingness on their part to work with us on this.

“We already lost our Soccer 7s and Football 4s when they were stopped due to Moray Council removing their share of the funding from the SFA – causing a post to be lost on financial grounds.

“We are prepared to make quite a significant investment but we cannot do that unless we have some assurances that it will be put to the maximum benefit of the communities we serve.”

Elgin City were allocated a £100,000 grant by the Scottish Government in 2011 – however, the cash was never used as barrier after barrier was placed before the club in developing Lesser Borough Briggs, primarily connected with the work being undertaken on the Elgin Flood Alleviation scheme.

The funding offer was eventually withdrawn last year.

Now the club are banking on their new bid, which is expected to be placed before councillors as early as next month with the first formal moves having been made by the SPFL outfit.

Mr Tatters said: “We are looking for a ten-year lease on Lesser Borough Briggs – we would have preferred longer but were told that would not be possible.

“What is important is that such a lease should not come with a vacant possession clause – as that would severely limit any chances we have of gaining investment to improve the facility with such as floodlighting and changing facilities.

“It is also important that the rental on such a lease is kept to an absolute minimum – we feel that the contribution our Community Programme provides to the area is worthy of recognition. It should also be noted that the Club is investing a substantial amount in preparation of the playing surface and then its maintenance, which will bring a cost saving to the local authority.”

In their bid the club have laid out plans for Lesser Borough Briggs that would see the pitches used regularly six days a week. That would include an SFA-backed initiative programme for Football 4’s and Soccer 7’s for both boys and girls, a primary school individual skills programme and an SPFL Trust programme to combat obesity and promote general mental wellbeing.

Sunday’s on the new facility would see the clubs’ Junior Academy Development Training while there will be a series of football camps held during the Easter, Summer and October school breaks.

Mr Tatters said: “We would also seek to host Football Festivals involving teams from all over the north – our most recent such event saw representatives from Aberdeen, Dingwall, Inverness and Buckie.”

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