RELOCATION of Scotland's sports agency away from Edinburgh will waste money and damage sport, ministers were warned in an independent report before they took the decision.
Consultants commissioned to assess the best place for sportscotland's headquarters concluded it should remain at its current base at Caledonia House in South Gyle.
In a report produced in 2004, but released only now under Freedom of Information legislation, they said the existing location was the most "financial, viable and sustainable". The consultants, PMP/Donaldsons, warned any move would have a "very major impact" on the organisation and would damage Scottish sport.
But in May this year, ministers announced that sportscotland's headquarters, and all 133 posts based there, would be transferred to Glasgow's East End, under the Scottish Executive's policy of dispersing jobs throughout the country. The consultants' report put the cost of moving to Glasgow at 1.7 million over five years - but warned another 4m would be needed if sportscotland could not rely on selling Caledonia House.
Today, Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MSP Margaret Smith called on the Executive to reconsider its decision and likened the move to the controversial forced transfer of Scottish Natural Heritage to Inverness.
She said: "This document confirms what many of us have thought all along, that sportscotland should remain in Edinburgh. This shows quite clearly that if the Executive pushes forward with the move of sportscotland jobs, we will be in the same situation we were with SNH."
And Ms Smith said the decision would not produce the benefits which ministers claimed for one of Scotland's most deprived communities. She said: "It will have no real impact in terms of jobs for the East End of Glasgow and it will not improve the provision of sport in Scotland."
New city council leader Ewan Aitken said he could not see how the Executive had reached its decision, based on the conclusions of the report. He said he was not against sharing civil service jobs, but added: "There needs to be a logic about it, there needs to be a transparency and there needs to be a rationale that makes sense."
The report rated the Glasgow site top in terms of social deprivation, but it concluded: "From the assessment, it is suggested that any recommendation includes the status quo as being the most financially viable and sustainable position in terms of minimising the impact on sportscotland and the delivery of sport."
The consultants found 40 per cent of existing staff would leave rather than move to Glasgow.
And they said: "The levels of staff loss would mean that the continued delivery of programmes and scale of the existing business would be problematic."
The board of sportscotland has yet to endorse the relocation decision and opponents have urged them to use the powers under their royal charter to refuse to move.
In February this year, before ministers announced their decision, sportscotland chairwoman Julia Bracewell said she was worried about the effect a loss of staff would have on Glasgow's bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
A sportscotland spokeswoman said that they were working with the Executive on the details of implementation and costs of relocation.
Albie O'Neill of the Public and Commercial Services Union said: "[Ministers] are not looking into the impact on the organisation involved and whether financially it is a good use of money."
An Executive spokeswoman said: "The assessment of the relocation criteria looked at socio-economic and business efficiency factors.
"The Glasgow option scored particularly highly for socio-economic factors and the highest overall for the combined score."
The Capital has lost more than 3000 public sector jobs under the relocation policy, around 1200 of which have simply been shipped along the M8.
WHAT THE CONSULTANTS SAID . .
"From the assessment it is suggested that any recommendation includes the status quo (ie staying in Edinburgh) as being the most financially viable and sustainable position in terms of minimising the impact on sportscotland and the delivery of sport."
• "The identified implications on the function of the business that a potential relocation could have are significant."
• "The implications range from staff loss, business continuity and financial cost to impact on the delivery of sport across Scotland."
• "It is clear that any relocation will have a very major impact on sportscotland and Scottish sport."
• "If the relocation is an overriding political requirement then the shortlist could consist of Glasgow and Stirling together with the existing status quo option."