Scottish Athletics reaffirms commitment to saving Grangemouth - 'It is a big asset for our sport'
Falkirk Council announced last December that a £67million funding gap over the next four years means they expect to close a number of buildings and sites, with those under threat including the well-used Grangemouth stadium. Talks between a number of parties are on-going around a potential rescue package or even an athletics community buy-out. And David Ovens, chair of Scottish Athletics, believes there may be viable financial options to keep the facility open for many years to come.
“There has been a lot of speculation about the future of Grangemouth and I just want to say that we are very much at the heart of those discussions with Falkirk Council,” said Ovens, “I want to reassure the sport we are lobbying on this – we are speaking to Falkirk Council, to sportscotland, other strategic partners and even Ineos, a major employer in the are and who neighbour the facility at Grangemouth.
“We are determined to try and come up with a plan that sees Grangemouth stadium remain open for many years to come. It is one of the most important facilities in Scotland. We simply can’t afford to lose it. The Scottish Schools were there recently for two days at national level but there are a whole range of regional schools events held there. We have the Schools International there over the summer.
“For so many young athletes across Scotland it is a place where they start their athletics journey. It’s the foremost venue for Para athletics, too, and of course our Senior and U17 Champs are there in August. And then you have league meetings and club activity as well. Half the population in Scotland can get there in an hour so that’s why its central location is key. It is a big asset for our sport.
Ovens confirmed the hard yards are being put in now, even though a final decision may be some time away. “We do have some time here to work something through,” Ovens continued. “It is deemed a ‘Phase Three’ asset by Falkirk Council at the moment and that means if a solution cannot be found then it would close in April 2026. So essentially we have three years to come up with plans or solutions but clearly that work has to be put in now.
“We have been receiving financial information from the Council to give us a better picture. We need to know the scale of the challenge we need to overcome. It is daunting, yes, but looking at it I am encouraged that there is possibly a business plan there which could be viable.”
Grangemouth has become synonymous with Scottish athletics for decades, with many of the country’s current top athletes, such as Laura Muir, Eilish McColgan and Jake Wightman having raced there in their youth. However, Falkirk Council said earlier this year that it could no longer afford to support venues which were becoming increasingly expensive to run. “We recognise the value that some communities place on these facilities, but we simply no longer have the budgets to continue to subsidise these as we are risking cutting more essential frontline services that support the most vulnerable in local communities,” a spokesperson said back on February.