South Scotland

Stranraer FC may switch venue for Gers match as capacity clashed

Stair Park
Image caption Stair Park in Stranraer has had its capacity cut in half by the local authority for safety reasons

Stranraer FC is considering a change of venue for next month's visit by Rangers after the club's stadium capacity was halved.

Council officials have ruled the capacity of Stair Park should be cut to 3,000 on safety grounds.

The decision is expected to slash takings at the gate when Rangers visit on 17 August.

But Stranraer is hopeful that new proposals will allow the rest of the stadium to be used.

Following a special meeting, the club said on Twitter: "Club making proposals to SPFL on Tuesday in hope to get full capacity"

Should the capacity remain at 3,000, the fixture is likely to bring in only half the expected £100,000 if the capacity had been maintained at 6,000.

Additional income

But the club revealed that it has already made inquiries to move the game to a bigger capacity ground to capitalise on income potential.

The club's safety officer and committee member, Shaun Niven, told BBC Radio Scotland the decision had been an "extreme disappointment" and added: "It was not the news we were hoping for."

The stadium came under review following problems experienced by smaller Third Division clubs last season when Rangers visited. As a result of recent inspections by police and the fire services, the new figure was decided.

Mr Niven said: "We intend to make representations to the council."

He added that Stranraer has already approached two other clubs with the possibility of switching the match for both safety and commercial considerations.

He said: "It's a risk the game could be played away from Stranraer. We hope to hold it there but we have other options. I have spoken to two other clubs to have contingency plans available. It's not the preferred option."

The new maximum capacity has been fixed at 2,988 just three weeks before what the club thought would be one of its biggest pay days of the season.

In the past, the club enjoyed a 6,000 capacity limit, which was needed when hosting cup ties against Celtic, Hearts and Dundee United.

Stranraer had hoped to generate substantial gate income for its two home League One home matches against Rangers this season - next month's clash and another game scheduled for February.

But, on Friday afternoon, Dumfries and Galloway Council - which owns the stadium - announced the crowd limit would be halved on safety grounds.

A council spokesman said the existing capacity had been based on a safety certificate for the ground's south stand only.

When the club requested an "estimate of capacity for their whole ground", building standards officials used the guidance provided by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport contained in its Green Book on sports grounds.

The spokesman added: "Stranraer FC has been given advice on a number of measures they can consider to increase the capacity of their ground."

The additional gate money that a 6,000 crowd would have generated would have helped complete Stranraer's recovery from near oblivion five years ago, when the club had debts of £400,000.

Last week, the club's annual meeting was told that the deficit had been reduced to £85,000.

The expected windfall from the two Rangers league games would have put them well into the black.

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