Brechin City's troubles relating to the dimensions of Glebe Park may have attracted puzzled, even amused looks from elsewhere but they remain a serious matter in Angus. With the pitch more than two metres short of the 100 x 64 minimum set by Uefa – and subsequently accepted by the Scottish Football Association for the issue of their own club licenses – the prospect of a 30,000 fine is a very real one.
In blunt terms, Brechin are adamant complying with dimension rules would mean the closure of a terrace on one side of Glebe Park and the removal of the ground's famous hedge.
As Brechin continue with a series of meetings aimed at resolving this affair, two important factors have come to light. The Scotsman has learned that Hugh Campbell Adamson, an honorary vice president of Brechin, has tendered his resignation from the SFA's General Purposes Committee; the body which has considered Brechin's case and will enforce that suspended punishment 10,000 at a time in January of 2010, 2011 and 2012 if it is not content progress has been made. Adamson was unwilling to discuss the matter yesterday but it is understood he will make a personal plea to the SFA board on 9 April in a bid to end this affair.
It can also be revealed that a key element of Brechin's representations to the General Purposes Committee concerns a plan to move from Glebe Park permanently in the near future. There has, already, been a bid received from another party for the land.
"That may be a possibility," confirmed Ken Ferguson, the club chairman. "But we are at the mercy of economic circumstances at the moment."
In the meantime, Ferguson and the Brechin committee will continue with "technical analysis" of the ground with a view to putting a price on what modifications are said to be required. Initial suggestions are that it would run into six figures.
"We do not feel singled out by the SFA," insisted Ferguson. "There are criteria we have to adhere to for national club licensing and we agree with the principle of that. But there are a number of boxes to be ticked and, as it stands, we just fall short on only one of those boxes.
"It is a matter of sheer dynamics, we have a land-locked ground. We are elected, as a committee, to serve the members of the club. We do not feel it would be in the best interests of those members to close one side of the ground."
Brechin, however, are not alone in facing such problems. Cowdenbeath, one member of the General Purposes Committee revealed, must increase the dimensions of their pitch before being granted a license. While Central Park is set in a distinctly bigger site than its' counterpart in Brechin, widening the pitch would encroach on the stock car track from which the club earns valuable income. Cowdenbeath, like Brechin, have told the SFA they have plans to move stadium. Annan Athletic, meanwhile, have agreed to carry out work to extend the dimensions of Galabank's pitch having been admitted to the Scottish Football League this season without meeting licensing criteria.
"The SFA has no wish to fine the likes of Brechin City and this one is staggered over three years to give them a chance to take action," added the committee member, who wished to remain anonymous. "If work is seen to be done, they will not pay a penny. But Brechin have been aware of the club licensing scheme, as all clubs have, for five years now. These licenses have created minimum standards for the likes of dressing rooms and referees' facilities; they have meant a huge improvement in the game."
It is understood representations have been made from within the General Purposes Committee for pitch dimension rules to be loosened from Uefa standards for clubs in the Second and Third Divisions on the basis such teams would almost certainly not qualify for European competition. However, failure to comply would in turn lead to a club not being granted promotion to the First Division. There is also no evidence such a proposal will be accepted imminently.
In the meantime, Brechin are left to wrestle with technical matters such as how much it would cost to move floodlights and the difficulties of selling Glebe Park for a reasonable price in this financial climate. If Adamson's pleas to the SFA next month fall on deaf ears, the association may have to prepare themselves for further vociferous criticism from one part of Angus.