The group which has netted a six-figure sum of funding for a community 3G sports pitch at Bayview stadium says it hopes still to work with those involved in a rival bid.
Fifers For The Community (FFTC) said it was delighted that the £350,000 rubber-stamped by Fife Council’s Levenmouth area committee would enable it to progress with plans to develop a multi-sports community facility at the Harbour View ground.
We need to focus on what we can achieveLiam Anderson
However, members were stung by criticism from Councillor Ally Hunter, who headed the other cash bid from East Fife Community Sports Academy (EFCSA) at King George V Park.
He slammed it as a ‘‘lack of ambition’’ for the area and strongly criticised sinking public money into East Fife FC.
FFTC responded to his comments earlier in the week and was due to meet tonight (Wednesday) to consider a further reply.
However, representatives told the Mail on Monday there would be further attempts to work together with Cllr Hunter and EFSCA, with trustee Liam Anderson saying: “We need to focus on what we can achieve.”
The main dispute, added the group, was over the location: “There were no disagreements about the facilities or what we’re trying to achieve. The aims for the community were the same.”
Chairman Allan Duthie said FFTC’s objectives now would be to secure some gap funding, hopefully from groups like sportscotland and others, to lay the artificial surface during the close season before the 2016-17 campaign.
East Fife FC chairman Jim Stevenson said the club had nurtured hopes of an artificial surface since it moved to its present home towards the end of the 1990s.
“It’s sad, in a way, to see the grass pitch maybe being lifted for artificial, but we have to progress the club at our current level.”
The main aim was to benefit the community, with around 350 boys and 120 girls in the club’s youth academy alone.
“That’s a lot of people, and the facilities are badly needed,” added Mr Stevenson.
Drainage, car parking and electrical facilities were already in place and the venue was largely away from houses, while there could be scope to play other sports, such as youth rugby or athletics.
Mr Stevenson praised FFTC for its “hard work and diligence” and said all East Fife FC’s board members and major shareholders were behind the venture.
Cllr Hunter said he was “disappointed” at how some of the criticism had become personal against him but added: “I genuinely wish East Fife well.
“Anything that comes out of this process that leaves Levenmouth with more facilities than when it started is good for the area.”
In a statement, FFTC said Cllr Hunter was wrong to refer to the FFTC bid as East Fife’s bid and funds being allocated to East Fife Football Club.
“The Council funding has been awarded to FFTC, which is in discussions with a view to having charity status approved in the very near future.
“While East Fife has a director representing the club on our board of trustees, the group is completely independent from EFFC.
“FFTC will pay rent to EFFC for the land on which the pitch is situated but EFFC will pay commercial rates to FFTC for pitch hire.
“The nett effect of the two transactions is revenue for FFTC.
“Club commitments excepted, East Fife FC has pledged full access to all facilities except the changing rooms for community use.”
East Fife FC said it was delighted to have helped FFTC’s bid for Fife Council funding – but the football club would not receive any of the money. The 3G Bayview pitch project, it said, would allow the development of much-needed community facilities, offering sports and social activities the entire Levenmouth area.
“Because of the nature of this development, it was essential that East Fife FC and FFTC worked together closely and an East Fife FC director on the FFTC board of trustees made decision-making a relatively straightforward process,” said a club statement. “East Fife FC would like to make it 100 per cent clear that not one penny of the £350K Fife Council funding will be received by East Fife FC.” The club and FFTC were “totally independent bodies” and, while collaboration would be needed on some decisions, all other financial transactions would be made as two autonomous organisations.