COUNCIL chiefs last night admitted that Neilston Juniors’ days are numbered at the Brig o’Lea Stadium.
And, as exclusively revealed in Tuesday’s Express Sports, the Central District First Division club WILL move from their spiritual home of the last 67 years.
We told on Tuesday how the club will not have its lease on the stadium renewed when it runs out in the next six to seven years.
East Renfrewshire Council have identified the site for a future housing project.
And the plan is to relocate the club to a new purpose-built site, which is widely tipped as being at Kingston Playing Fields, which is near to the village train station.
It’s understood that the ambitious project would involve an all-weather pitch, which would dramatically help the club fulfil its fixtures over the winter months, new stands and seating, brand new changing facilities and the possibility of a social club being mooted too.
A new community gym is also thought to be part of the project.
Today, we can reveal that discussions have taken place between the club and local authority over how to facilitate the move.
An East Renfrewshire Council spokesman said: “We have had a very good initial meeting with Neilston Juniors.
“They have indicated they are keen on a move with better and improved facilities and we are keen to support the juniors who are an important part of our community.”
Although there is no exact figure on how much the new site will cost, discussions with the local authority and club are expected to continue and a figure should be revealed once it reaches the planning application stage.
A council spokesman said: “There are no timescales set at the moment but we will continue our discussions with them (Neilston Juniors) in more detail.
“Although housing is highlighted in the Neilston town charter for the site of Brig o’Lea, there is no housing development currently earmarked for the site.
“Our discussions with Neilston Juniors are rooted entirely in how best the club can be supported to have the best facilities on offer to make sure it’s future is secure and long history preserved.”
Neilston team manager Robert Fox last night revealed that him and his backroom staff have been given a “blank canvas” in order to get the best they possibly can for the club, when it finally does relocate.
He said: “Being a Neilston boy and growing up here, I know this is something that the whole community needs.
“This is a project that we are very excited about.
“Basically, we’ve been given a blank canvas and we have been told to go back to the people in charge of it and tell them what we want.
“As things stand, we’d love to get a Petershill-type model, where you have an all-weather pitch, stands and great changing facilities.
“We want something that’s going to encompass the whole village and not just Neilston Juniors.
“It’ll be something that the whole community will use – and we’ll be at the top of the tree when it comes to the all-weather surface.”
Fox also revealed how the club hope to generate additional income by having five-a-side pitches that can be rented by the community.
He said: “This is something that’s been needed in Neilston for a long, long time.
“We’d also love to install a community gym, five-a-side pitches and other facilities to be enjoyed by the community.
“This is a project that will be very much welcomed.”
Fox, meanwhile, has already started the rebuilding for next season by re-signing 13 of his existing squad of players.
He is speaking to a further five players in order to get them to pledge their futures too.
He revealed: “We have re-signed 13 of last season’s players and we have four or five still to speak to.
“Of that four or five, I’m pretty certain we’ll have four of them back on board.
“One of them is proving somewhat more difficult, though.
“But I do have to point out that the players that have re-signed have done so on reduced wages from last season because our budget is smaller.
“That tells me something about their commitment and says they want to play for Neilston Juniors.”
He added: “If I can get the remaining players I’m speaking to signed up, then that will give me around 17 players, which is the nucleus of last season’s squad, so I’m happy with the way things are shaping up.”