By Paul Thomson
Ally McCoist insists a new stadium in the town is essential to keep up with the growth of East Kilbride Football Club.
The Rangers legend is backing the East Kilbride News’ campaign urging South Lanarkshire Council to back plans for a community stadium in Langlands.
East Kilbride Community Trust have submitted plans, which will go before the council on May 25, for a 4000-seater sports hub, complete with an artificial 11-a-side football pitch, multi-purpose sports hall, health suite and facilities to accommodate children with additional support needs.
Now the town’s famous son believes the success of EKFC means East Kilbride is crying out for a larger football facility than what is currently on offer at K-Park in Calderglen.
East Kilbride FC’s Lowland League team played Celtic in a Scottish Cup match in February but the game had to be played in Airdrie with K-Park deemed unsuitable to host such a big tie.
McCoist told the News: “K-Park is where the journey began for East Kilbride FC, but in terms of the journey continuing, the team improving and getting bigger, a new stadium is an absolute must.
“What happens then is the players, the supporters, the town and everyone involved in that environment gets a real boost.
“All of a sudden the team, the supporters and the town will have a stadium they can call their own.
“The whole reason we couldn’t play Celtic in East Kilbride was because of the infrastructure at K-Park.
“Now, I would never want to sound like I’m putting K-Park down because it’s a fantastic facility and it provides a great service, but it is not the next step.
“If you want to stand still then K-Park is fine, but if you want to move forward you must look to a new stadium where things will be bigger and better.
“But it’s not just about the football team, the whole community would benefit with jobs being created and other sports taking place there as well.
“The new stadium gives potential for growth, which K-Park, as good as it is, doesn’t give you.”
In last week’s campaign launch the News highlighted the industry East Kilbride has lost in recent years with Motorola, Rolls-Royce and Thomas Litho – among others – all pulling out of the town.
Hundreds of jobs have been lost, our spirits have been dented.
But just like your local newspaper, McCoist believes the excitement of a new stadium and the benefits it would bring will give the town a much-needed lift.
“I think East Kilbride, like many other towns in Britain, has suffered since the recession hit in 2008 and it’s lost a lot,” said the 53-year-old, who grew up in Calderwood.
“So now it is all about building back up, getting people jobs, getting people interested in East Kilbride again and I think the stadium would do that.
“You just have to look at the boost East Kilbride FC has given the town this year in some tough times. The Scottish Cup run gave the town a bit of pride back and put a smile on everyone’s face.
“East Kilbride is good enough and big enough to have its own stadium and it’s about time that became a reality.”
While McCoist is passionate about EKFC reaping the rewards of a new stadium, the impact it would have on the Trust’s additional support needs group is another cause close to his heart.
The former Rangers manager is an EKCT trustee and every year he hosts a family fun day for the ASN Group at his home on Loch Fyne.
A new stadium would provide the ASN Group with a full-time base.
And McCoist said: “This stadium would be a home for them.
“A place where everyone can congregate and enjoy more events like that on a regular basis.
“Loch Fyne is one of the best days of the year for me.
“It’s an absolute breath of fresh air.
“You walk away from it feeling great because you’ve actually benefited from meeting the kids.
“Everyone thinks it’s the other way about, but nothing could be further from the truth.
“The kids give you a reality check as to what is important in life and they put a smile on everyone’s faces.
“It’s absolutely magic and it would be fantastic to see them benefit from a new stadium.”