Falkirk in frame as SRU looks to ground Glasgow

THE SRU is considering moving the Glasgow pro side to Falkirk's Community Stadium this season as it struggles to find a suitable home.

Glasgow have played at Anniesland, Firhill and Hughenden in the last two years, but currently, a month from the start of the new Magners League, have a possibility of five 'homes' in the mix.

Sean Lineen's side are still training at Whitecraigs to the west of the city and will hold their first pre-season match there against Moseley on Friday, 11 August, but players continue to flit around the city for other sessions.

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Gordon McKie, the SRU chief executive, admitted yesterday that he hopes to cut around five possibilities down to a final one by the end of this week, with ground-sharing with Falkirk FC a possibility.

"Obviously, we are a rugby business and it would be nice to play in a rugby stadium," said McKie, "but there are few that fulfil the criteria we want.

"Falkirk is being evaluated as it has a good pitch and floodlights. We've used it for Under-21 games and it is accessible. Clearly, that move [so far from Glasgow] would be emotive and our preference would be to stay in Glasgow. Sadly, not many locations in Glasgow can tick many boxes in the criteria we have to host professional rugby."

The five in contention are thought to be Glasgow Hawks' Anniesland, Burnbrae - where Glasgow will play Newcastle in a pre-season friendly on 18 August - Hughenden, Firhill and Falkirk. To become a season-long home, Burnbrae would require temporary floodlights and seating, as would Anniesland, to satisfy expected crowds of 3,000 to 4,000 and safety regulations, while Hughenden needs significant improvement work in its changing areas. Firhill, therefore, remains the front-runner, despite some complaints that it is too far from the city's traditional rugby areas.

McKie clearly is looking at the short-term, underlining that his refusal to continue talks with the Glasgow City Council over its plans for a new Scotstoun stadium was because he could not commit to an eight-year contract. He reiterated that, even with Edinburgh attracting new five-year investment, Glasgow and the Borders will not be receiving investment beyond next season if poor crowds and revenue remain the norm.

He added: "Glasgow and the Borders have not been given a five-year lifeline. Guarantees were given in the past which did not make commercial sense.

"We look at everything on an annual basis, like any normal business, but we do hope that now we have addressed many concerns tabled by supporters and others - Friday night games, sensible ticket prices, better structure to the season and improved communication with clubs - hopefully people will want to watch the pro teams.

"Why would you keep investing in pro teams if not many people want to go and watch them? That is not meant as a warning, just a realistic statement. I really hope people will get behind them because it is important to the teams, the players and to Scottish rugby."

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Another issue McKie hopes to clear from his in-tray this week is final confirmation that the SRU will host a leg of the IRB World Sevens Series, at Melrose's Greenyards ground next year and in each of the subsequent four years.

Meanwhile, the Pacific Islanders have revealed players who pull on their jerseys in the November tour - which includes a first Test match at Murrayfield - will not be able to play for a nation other than Fiji, Tonga and Samoa in the future.

When the Islanders team was launched in 2004, to intensify competition in the South Seas, players were told there was no bar to going on to play for the All Blacks - Sione Lauaki and Sitiveni Sivivatu did - however, that loophole has been closed, which might impinge on the young talents the Islanders can call up this year.