Wednesday, August 18, 2010

When East Fife Chairman Sid Collumbine appeared on BBC Radio Scotland's Beyond The SPL programme this evening, it came as a bit of a surprise.

He's not exactly what you would consider a guest that would be up there in high demand. Funeral directors don't have the reputation for their dazzling wit and repartee after all.

What he was to go on and say though was the biggest shock of all.

After just 12 years in their current Bayview Stadium home, East Fife are going to be on the move again, planning permission permitting.

Collumbine has announced the Club's ambitious plans to move from their current prime piece of real estate, to a £4.5 million state of the art new stadium complex about a mile and a half from our current home on the outskirts of Leven and Windygates.

The new stadium would have a 3,000 initial capacity with a fourth generation artificial playing surface, training pitches, top notch stadium facilities for the fans, a hotel, a supermarket and even a college! There are plans for a youth academy as well.

The sports, retail and leisure facility shouldn't cost East Fife a penny either because of a potential land swap deal with Muir Construction. This in itself is an amazing achievement for the Club, but the whole development should be a boom for the area and revitalise Levenmouth and move it forward into a new era.

The hope is for the stadium to be ready withing two years and the most important part of all of this, as far as we're concerned, is that East Fife will own the stadium from the start. They won't be tenants and there won't be all the horrendous wranglings we endured when we moved into our current home.

When East Fife played their last game at Bayview Park on October 31st 1998, 95 proud years of history ended. When they played their first game at the newly built Bayview Stadium two weeks later, little did we think that we'd only be there for just over a dozen years.

Now let's be honest here from the get go. Leaving our soulless, atmosphere sapping current stadium is not a big loss.

I hate the current ground. Many, if not most, of our fans hate the current ground. Visiting fans hate the current ground. A move is very welcome and something which I've sensed was going to be on the cards for a few years now, especially with the value of the land in and around the stadium and it's location.

Having put up with a horrendous view of the power station all these years, it is a shame to be now moving when the old eyesore is due to come down! We'd finally be having that bay view we've been waiting for!

After many years in the doldrums and the disinterest from the Levenmouth public, East Fife have done great work of late to try and become a community club. Today's announcement will only add to all this and build on other successful projects such as launching East Fife sides as under 14, 15, 16, 17 and 19 level.

It's all a great step in the right direction and very reassuring to the future of the Club that seemed so bleak in the dark Brown days of 2005 and 2006.

We do have to throw out a word of caution though. There could be a lot of money to be made in this deal, depending on how all the final details play out. We need to know that this move is being made for all the right reasons and that East Fife Football Club will be the main beneficiaries from any large monies made from the deal.

Have a Trust director on the Board now should hopefully give us fans more transparency. This isn't the time to be negative about the project in any shape or form. For now, we have to trust that our Board and owners have the best interest of the Club at heart and are moving us in the right direction. I truly would like to believe that they are. We'll know more when we find out more but for now I would like to congratulate Sid and the Board for all the hard work that has gone in to this up to this stage.

The Club had planned to make the announcement to the fans first, but unfortunately news leaked out before this was possible, making tonight's radio announcement a necessity.

Further details about the move are scarce just now but more will hopefully be following soon. The key to all of this initially is Fife Council providing planning permission for the new stadium. That in itself didn't go very well in the 1990's when we were looking to move away from Bayview Park, of which one of the options was a move to a similar site as the proposed new area.

Times have changed of course, redevelopment of that area has been great and the chance to revitalise the current Methil Docks area should hopefully see no hurdles from the Council that can't be overcome. It is also a new regime in the corridors of power at Fife House and with everything that's been happening, they need all the good news stories they can get.

Tomorrow in the blog we'll look at what we'd like to see from the new stadium. In the meantime, for those who want to hear Sid's announcement, you can listen in HERE and for those that want to wallow in nostalgia for both the old and new Bayviews from 1903 to present, well look no further than HERE.

More tomorrow...

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