The townsfolk and businesses in Stranraer were up in arms this week over a ruling which they claim could take away thousands of pounds from the local economy.
Ahead of Stranraer Football Club’s scheduled August 17 match against Rangers, Dumfries and Galloway Council announced plans to halve the Stair Park ground’s 6000 capacity for safety reasons and in a bid to avoid potential trouble.
The club are now forced to reapply for a safety certificate covering the ground’s full capacity after testing crush barriers.
Should the capacity remain at 3000, the fixture is likely to bring in only half the expected £100,000 locally if the capacity had been maintained at 6000.
At a meeting held between the council and SPFL officials on Wednesday, several ideas were discussed in a bid to increase the capacity. Surveyors and engineers are expected to assess the ground imminently and report back on required improvements. Talks are set to continue into next week before a final decision is made.
A Dumfries and Galloway Council spokeswoman said: ““This is the first time the club has applied for a whole-ground certificate and the first time a capacity for the ground (2988) has been calculated in accordance with the ‘Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds’.
“The council has no legal obligation to issue such a certificate for stadiums below 10,000 capacity. However, the SPFL has insisted that the club must apply for a safety certificate for the whole ground before the Rangers match can go ahead.
“The club will also arrange to have their crush barriers tested around the ground as a matter of urgency with a view to applying for an immediate amendment to the safety certificate for a larger capacity.
“Stranraer Football Club has been aware of its responsibilities with regard to stadium safety and the impending visit of Rangers Football Club for some time.
“In the interests of football and Stranraer, the council, police, fire and ambulance services and the SPFL are working with the club in securing this fixture and securing an appropriate safety certificate.”
Police Scotland said earlier this week that they have little influence over the ruling and that he decision to reduce the capacity of the ground was not one that they were involved in.
Some Rangers fans have come forward to express support for Stranraer fans and announced they will be boycotting the game – regardless of its location – should the capacity remain halved.