Inverurie Locos chairman Mike Macaulay is worried that changes to the status of their ground Harlaw Park could impact on the club’s future.
In Aberdeenshire Council’s proposed new local development plan, which is currently at the consultation stage and addresses how the town Inverurie may develop over the next decade, the status of the Railwaymen’s ground would change from town centre to a protected area.
With its current status Harlaw Park can be used for anything appropriate to a town centre, which includes a football pitch.
However, a change in the zoning to protect the ground would restrict the future use of Harlaw Park.
Inverurie do not plan to propose a change of use, but do have plans to redevelop the clubhouse and dressing room areas as well as enhancing disabled seating and ground’s toilets to improve the matchday experience.
However, if the status of Harlaw Park is changed the Garioch side would be unable to make the improvements they wish to.
Locos chairman Macaulay said: “As a club we want to have the best facilities we can possible have.
“We had plans that were well-advanced, but we need the right classification on the ground.
“People think because it’s going to be left as a football ground that it’s great, but it’s not great because it means we can’t develop the place as we’d like.
“If the SFA increase the standard of facilities required for membership and to play in certain competitions such as the Scottish Cup we probably wouldn’t be able to make those upgrades.
“All we’re asking is that Harlaw Park retains the same status as in the previous local plan.
“What we do find incredible was that we weren’t notified about the change, it was our former chairman Eddie Innes who spotted it by chance otherwise we wouldn’t have known.
“We’re fortunate that another of our former chairman Willie Lippe is an architect and Mike Naysmith from our main sponsor Cala Homes have both been advising us and we’re grateful to them for that.
“We’re all ambitious, once upon a time you would have been happy winning a Highland League.
“But that’s all changed now you want to win the league so that you have the opportunity to step up a league.
“If that was curtailed for us because we weren’t able to upgrade our facilities that would be a disaster for the club.
“As a club we’re ambitious and want to improve both on the pitch and our facilities and this change could curtail that.
“Local councillors don’t seem to have a proper grasp of the implications of this.”
Macaulay also warned that a change in the status of Harlaw Park would devalue it as a club asset.
He added: “It could affect the financial future of the club because if we had to borrow money for improvements or anything else, it’s much easier to borrow money if your asset is of more value.
“There are so many ramifications as a result of this change we need councillors to understand the impact this will have,”
Representations about the local development plan can be made to Aberdeenshire Council until Friday July 17.