Bairns have offered a warm welcome to East Stirlingshire

Falkirk Stadium is now home to East Stirlingshire as well as Falkirk FC
Falkirk Stadium is now home to East Stirlingshire as well as Falkirk FC

East Stirlingshire’s growing off-field relationship with one time town rivals Falkirk could be extended to include working together on it.

The Lowland League club’s switch from from Ochilview to the Falkirk Stadium for the start of next season is already leading to closer behind-the- scenes co-operation between Shire and the Bairns.

Now head coach John Sludden wants to translate that into a partnership that could see young Falkirk players heading to his side on loan, as he prepares another shot at getting Shire back into the SPFL.

Sludden is hoping to sit down with opposite number Paul Hartley soon to explore the potential options of a player tie-in, something he says he has been trying to instigate almost since he took the job.

“We have spoken to Falkirk before about taking some of their younger players on loan,” he said this week. “But our efforts got bogged down in red tape to do with league rules and it never happened.

“I think it might be of benefit to both teams to get loan players from Falkirk and I am hoping to meet Paul Hartley soon to discuss what might be possible.

“It’s not a new idea but it’s unfortunately something we have never been able to bring about. But the two clubs have been trying to sort it out and hopefully the switch to playing at the Falkirk Stadium might make it easier.”

Sludden was generous in his praise for the Bairns for the assistance they have offered Shire since the club’s switch of playing venue for the 2018/19 season was announced earlier this year.

He says Falkirk have extended a very warm welcome and both see the benefit of partnership working.

“I think it’s a very exciting time for the club,” said the Shire head coach. “And I think Falkirk are excited about it as well. There have been a number of discussions about how we both make things work and that extends to a number of different aspects, for example, looking at getting a place where supporters can meet before and after games.”

There may also be an impact when Sludden sits down to talk terms with a number of signing targets for the forthcoming season. He says, as far as he’s concerned, playing and training every week at facilities designed for the Premiership would be a draw for potential new faces.

“I think it can only be a benefit to us when we sit down and talk to players about joining the club,” he said. “I really do hope the change in venue will help persuade players, and the fact that we will be using it as our training base as well should be a positive.

“The quality of the stadium, the surroundings, and the playing surface can, I think, be turned to our advantage in games next season, although I think that visiting teams will also enjoy the experience.”