East Kilbride are happy with the new venue for their William Hill Scottish Cup clash with Celtic after Airdrie’s Excelsior Stadium was selected to stage the fifth-round tie.
The SFA announced that the game would be played at Airdrie 24 hours after Hamilton declared they had “no intention” of hosting the game. The SFA had announced Hamilton’s ground as the venue moments after East Kilbride beat Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale in the fourth round last week.
East Kilbride chairman Mark Horner said: “We’ve been in talks with various stadiums all day and put forward the Excelsior as the best, nearest and most suitable stadium to host the game against Celtic and we are delighted the SFA have agreed.”
The SFA had originally picked New Douglas Park because it said competition rules dictated that in the event of the home team being unable to stage the match at their own stadium the tie should be played at the nearest registered ground. However, it emerged yesterday that these rules were ignored two years ago.
Albion Rovers’ run to the quarter-finals in season 2013-14 featured home games at New Douglas Park against Motherwell and Rangers as their Cliftonhill ground was not deemed suitable to host them. However these games should have been played at Airdrie which is less than three miles from Coatbridge.
As far as East Kilbride are concerned, Airdrie fits the bill after their 500-capacity K-Park stadium was ruled out by Police Scotland.
“The stadium is modern, a great size and the surface is similar to K-Park, which [manager] Billy [Ogilvie] and the players are delighted about,” added Horner.
“The stadium also has great disabled access, which is another plus point as we are planning to take hundreds of children from East Kilbride with ASN [additional support needs] to the game. We are all really looking forward to what will be a great occasion for the club and the town.”
Airdrie’s ground holds around 10,000 fans – 4,000 more than Hamilton.
The Lowland League club had been asked by the SFA after the draw to list their preferred alternatives to K-Park.
The top two choices were Hampden and Celtic Park, while the Excelsior came next alongside Firhill or Broadwood. New Douglas Park was effectively East Kilbride’s seventh choice and Hamilton said their ground was already booked for their youth and community programmes on the day of the game, Sunday 7 February.