Falkirk Community Stadium Limited – the independent company that helped build the home of Falkirk FC – will eventually transfer into council ownership legally, councilors have agreed.
The change will have no impact on the football club and employees will transfer to Falkirk Council as part of the process, members of the executive heard on Tuesday.
Falkirk Community Stadium Limited (FCSL) was established in partnership with Falkirk FC, when the Bairns were looking to move from their traditional home of Brockville.
The new stadium was opened in 2004, but in 2009 the two parties agreed to separate their financial arrangements, leaving the club to handle the football side of the business.
This left FCSL with assets in place of the money it had lent – and with the possibility of a hefty tax bill if these were transferred to the council.
However, the most recent report assured members that any transfer of assets would result in no liability, leaving them free to start legal proceedings now.
Councilors agreed the change was long overdue.
But councilor Joan Coombes suggested the council’s share of the stadium isn’t exactly an asset.
The report to the executive shows that over £2m of the original debt is still being paid off – and it reveals maintenance costs going forward are expected to be over £2m over the next few years. next 30 years.
Next year, council staff are due to move into a large office suite in the West Stand, as part of the local authority’s move of council buildings which are under threat of demolition.
The move to the new offices will coincide with the liquidation of Falkirk Community Trust and the hope is that the new management structure will be more streamlined.
Officers believe that giving their share of the stadium full council ownership will allow them to better plan repairs.
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The conference and catering part of FCSL – which has consistently turned a profit in recent years – is set to continue, with staff transferred to the council.
More changes could be on the horizon, however, with the long-promised Falkirk Gateway development – a mix of retail, hotels and accommodation – set to be just across the road.
Recently, the UK government awarded a £20m grant to improve roads around the Gateway site, which will include air travel over the busy roads surrounding the stadium.
It is hoped that once again this may spark interest in further developing the site.
In recent years the council has come under fire from auditors for the arrangement which sees senior council and Community Trust staff sit on the board – and that conflict of interest will now end.
Cecil Meiklejohn, leader of Falkirk Council, said the new arrangements would be more streamlined.
She said: ‘There are responsibilities around the state of the building and bringing it back into council ownership and management means we can manage that in our capital programme.
“The very close working relationship with Falkirk Football Club will continue – it has worked very successfully and we would like it to continue.”