Glasgow struggle to find a home

THE SRU are going to have to bend on their determination for 'Friday night rugby' if Glasgow are to continue to play at Firhill.

Gordon McKie, the SRU chief executive, admitted yesterday that he had still not been able to clinch a deal with Partick Thistle FC, owners of Firhill, to keep Sean Lineen's team at the stadium with just over three weeks until the first Magner's League match. Nor has he managed to agree a shift to one of another four possible venues, including Falkirk's community stadium.

There are major facility hurdles, specifically floodlighting and seating, to West of Scotland's Burnbrae, and Anniesland, home to Glasgow Hawks, financial disputes hang over a return to Hughenden, Glasgow's old venue, and supporters are set against relocating to Falkirk. Firhill seems the most viable option, however, The Scotsman has discovered that the obstacle there is Thistle's reluctance to allow Glasgow to play all their home games on Friday nights.

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McKie had vowed to scrap the mish-mash of last season where matches were played on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with everything from 1pm to 9pm kick-offs, and 'Friday night is rugby night' has become a mantra in the SRU's bid to woo back the thousands of supporters who deserted professional rugby over the past couple of seasons.

McKie stated yesterday: "We realise it is frustrating for supporters to not yet know where the Warriors will be playing their games, however, it is important we make the right decision here as we all want the best for the team. This has been a very complicated matter, but it is the priority for [the SRU] at the moment and remains top of our agenda."

The chairman at Partick Thistle FC, Brown McMaster, is a rugby fan and admitted he was keen to keep Glasgow at Firhill, but stated: "If Glasgow need a venue where they play all of their home games this season on a Friday night, then I'm afraid it is unlikely they will stay here. We have just re-seeded our pitch and we're told it will take up to 30 games in its first season, so if Thistle have 20 perhaps we could cope with ten Glasgow games, but no more.

"We have to look after the football club, of course, and so there are occasions where it would be preferable for the rugby match to be on the Sunday after our game, but I understand Glasgow supporters prefer Friday night games. We are still in discussions with the SRU, so I wouldn't like to comment further at the moment."

A traditional lack of investment in the city's rugby grounds is at the root of the current problem and there is no easy way out for the union. With season tickets still to be printed, and supporters growing impatient, they must move swiftly. However, a long-time Glasgow fan, Neil Stobie, believes that the majority of Glasgow supporters would cope with Sunday matches - or a temporary move to a rugby ground - in order to stay at Firhill.

"We do need a regular time for games instead of chopping and changing, but we've been given an assurance of at least eight home games this season on Friday nights and I think supporters would accept two or three on a Sunday, or a temporary move to Anniesland or Burnbrae for a couple of Friday nights, especially if it means we know what's going on soon."