Plea launched to save 'vital' Grangemouth Stadium by Falkirk Victoria Harriers president Gary Smith

Falkirk Victoria Harriers president Gary Smith has made an impassioned plea to council chiefs to save the closure-threatened Grangemouth Stadium.
Grangemouth Stadium is seen as a vital local sporting facility for clubs in the Falkirk area (Pic by Michael Gillen)​Grangemouth Stadium is seen as a vital local sporting facility for clubs in the Falkirk area (Pic by Michael Gillen)​
Grangemouth Stadium is seen as a vital local sporting facility for clubs in the Falkirk area (Pic by Michael Gillen)​

With Falkirk Council trying to make cutbacks amidst a £64.4 million funding gap over the next five years, the international-standard stadium – which was built in 1966 and features a 150-metre running track – has been deemed ‘unaffordable’ and could go along with other local sports facilities including Stenhousemuir Gym, Bo’ness Recreation Centre, Polmonthill Ski Centre and many community halls.

Harriers supremo Gary Smith told the Falkirk Herald: “In the spirit of the season, the children of Falkirk have a Christmas wish, one that echoes through the corridors of Grangemouth Stadium.

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"Amidst the festive cheer, concerns loom over the potential closure of this historic facility, and the responsibility falls squarely on Falkirk Council and its elected members. Grangemouth Stadium, while holding broader benefits for athletics in Scotland, stands as a vital hub for local clubs and communities.

"It is not an extravagant expectation for a local authority to ensure the existence of a synthetic track and field facility, especially one that contributes to the active lifestyle and sporting opportunities promised by Falkirk Council.

“The reported operating deficit and the stadium's deteriorating condition raise realistic doubts about finding a viable solution. Negligence in maintenance has exacerbated the situation, leaving the fate of Grangemouth Stadium hanging in the balance.”

Smith stressed he felt that Falkirk Council's commitment to providing sporting opportunities ‘aligned with the need to secure the future of Grangemouth Stadium’.

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He added: "A degree of realism must accompany this commitment. With only one other local authority in Scotland lacking synthetic athletics facility provision, it is imperative Falkirk Council steps up to the responsibility.

“While the stadium is accessible to a significant portion of Falkirk's population, alternatives like Greenfaulds High School in Cumbernauld or the University of Stirling pose challenges in terms of time and accessibility. Closing a facility without a suitable alternative undermines the commitment to fostering active lifestyles.

“The plea to Falkirk Council is clear: ‘Ensure the provision of synthetic athletics facilities for residents’.

"A closure without a comprehensive plan for alternatives is not acceptable.

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"Elected members must prioritize securing Grangemouth Stadium's future while simultaneously guaranteeing the continued availability of athletics facilities in the Falkirk Council area.

“As the year draws to a close, the community looks to its elected representatives for answers.

"What plans has Falkirk Council developed in the past year to safeguard the interests of local athletics clubs and residents in the face of Grangemouth Stadium's impending closure?

"The children of Falkirk, along with the entire community, eagerly await a response, hopeful that their Christmas wish for a thriving Grangemouth Stadium will be granted.”

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The Falkirk Herald outlined Smith’s concerns to Falkirk Council on Monday afternoon.

A council spokesman responded to our questions by saying: “The decision to close Grangemouth Stadium was taken in March 2023 as part of the Strategic Property Review (SPR).

"The Review looked at the number of buildings and facilities operated by the Council with a view to deliver savings and reduce the number of buildings that are in poor and aging condition and also are not energy efficient.

"As reported to Council in March 2023 and based on 22/23 figures, Grangemouth Stadium has an annual subsidy of £675,120 and this equates to £12.25 subsidy per admission.

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"The Council has been actively engaged with national sports bodies and interested parties to establish alternative management arrangements.

"We hope these will come to fruition however, if they do not then the property will close in accordance with the previous decision.

"An update report on the SPR is being presented to elected members in January 2024.

"This report will highlight across all the properties concerned whether Community Asset Transfer, Alternative Delivery Models or Financial Sustainability has been achieved.”