League status hangs in the balance but plans are in place for Shire’s future

Shire have a loyal fan base
Shire have a loyal fan base

More than 1,000 fans turned out at Meadowbank for the play-off first leg

Shire face 90 vital minutes when they face Edinburgh City to preserve their senior spot in Scottish football on Saturday, but the club is using the precarious position to – hopefully – grow the Shire brand.

“There’s exposure there that people are seeing the club who maybe haven’t seen it or thought of East Stirlingshire before,” explained Alan Archibald.

“It is a massive game for us and we’re looking to have as many supporters along as possible to cheer on the boys.

“We have a strong core support at the club who follow Shire regardless – they are not going to go away. But it’d be great to have the wider Falkirk public along too.

“There’s a real affinity for the club that runs in many families. Relatives who have played or watched the club over the years. People who have lived near the club in Firs Street or such like. We’d love to welcome them all on Saturday.”

Shire even have a fan flying in from Carolina, USA for the match – easily one of the biggest in their history with their future at stake. Yet the Shire chief is in favour of the pyramid play-off despite the danger it poses to the club.

“I’d rather we weren’t involved, but from a broader view it is good for Scottish football. It provides excitement and interest when some games at this time of year became meaningless. “

The club has already had a rub of the green with Stenhousemuir avoiding the play-offs and Falkirk’s match being moved to Friday night, which avoids a clash with Saturday’s 3pm kick off at Ochilview. Come 5pm, or at the latest, 6pm, the Shire will know what the future holds – continued SPFL league football or making history as the first relegated senior side dropping into the Lowland League.

That, although to be avoided, will not spell the end for the club as many fear it may.

“We have a strong board, and a solid core support who won’t walk away, they’ve stuck with us,” added Archibald.

“It’s a risk but there are plans in place and there are aspects of the club we’re looking to turn around.”

That is commercially. If they can build on the interest generated by this precarious play-off, all the better. But they are seeking to tap into the commercial side of the game better.

As well as their American fan, the club has sold jerseys to Italy and Macedonia this season, proving the spread of affinity for the club. It’s the local public they are looking to appeal to this weekend.

Archibald said: “We are hoping for a big crowd. Supporters from other clubs come to Shire for the hospitality and the day out. Sponsors do the same – they’re not necessarily Shire fans but they enjoy the atmosphere and surroundings the club provides. There are still opportunities for sponsorship on Saturday.

“But we’d like to see as big a crowd as possible for the boys on Saturday and hopefully we get the result.”

Entry is £13 adults, £1 for accompanied under-12s and £7 concessions.