Members of local football club Leith Athletic FC are celebrating after successfully bidding to become the “home club” of a new £500,000 football training facility at Meadowbank that opened this week.
This means that the football club will get priority access to the new facilities at pre-arranged times. Leith Athletic, which has traditionally been based in Leith Links, has had to call off numerous matches often due to the impact of wet or wintry weather on the grass pitches, even though they claim to have spent thousands of pounds maintaining the pitch areas.
The club has also come into conflict with other users of the Links in the past, such as the Edinburgh Mela.
An official statement released by the club says that the new Meadowbank facility will be used as, “a training base (particularly in the winter) during the week for our 600+ children (boys & girls).”
It continues: “we have secured the use of the facility for our 11-a-side, 7-a-side and 4-a-side teams to use at the weekend for matches and festivals.”
The £500,000 cost of the new facility was paid for by a £300,000 contribution from the Scottish Government’s Cash back for Communities scheme and £200,000 from the City of Edinburgh Council via Edinburgh Leisure.
As part of the deal Leith Athletic have pledged to work with Edinburgh Leisure to run a new “midnight league” for local young people. The pitch is also large enough for people to play Rugby on too.
Commenting on the opening of the new facility, Club president Bert Bungay make’s it clear that they would have preferred to see a football training centre built on Leith Links. He said:
“It gives us great pleasure to work in partnership with Edinburgh Leisure, Cashback for Communities and the Scottish FA South East Region at the new 3G pitch at Meadowbank.
“Our club has worked hard over the years to try and obtain better training facilities for the footballers at Leith Athletic and from our early years, it was always the vision of the committee and our Honorary Chairman, Gerry Freedman to get a 3G facility on Leith Links.
“Led from the front by Gerry, our club quickly established itself from the early days as a club that would compete and prosper by winning Scottish Cups, League Titles and South East Regional Cups and now thanks to the good grounding and the great reputation that we have built over the years, we now have this fantastic facility to look forward to.
“Every team will be offered an opportunity to use the facility at Meadowbank and we hope that our players, coaches, parents and supporters will enjoy the use of this facility, as well as our current home at Leith Links”.
Members of Leith Athletic were joined by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill MSP, Cllr Richard Lewis, Culture & Sport Convener from the City of Edinburgh Council and Edinburgh Leisure Chief Executive, John Comiskey at the opening of the Meadowbank facility.
As you can see from the official photos, they didn’t look at all silly playing football in their suits with young Leith Athletic players, like Dylan McKellar, below.
Edinburgh Leisure Chief Executive, John Comiskey, said: “This excellent new 3G facility will provide an improved experience for our customers on a consistent playing surface, helping to combat the unreliable Scottish weather which has affected so many games on grass pitches this year. The larger playing area will also allow more flexibility for pitch layouts and help us to encourage more people to be more active throughout the year.”