Chairman: Carluke Rovers face 'oblivion' without cut in rental fees

John Cumming Stadium in Carluke
John Cumming Stadium in Carluke

Carluke Rovers chairman Ian McKnight is urging the owners of John Cumming Stadium to reduce Rovers’ rental fees to save the club from oblivion, writes Craig Goldthorp.

McKnight – whose side won 4-1 at St Anthony’s on Saturday to boost their promotion bid – thinks South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture must offer a discount as the current annual cost of around £8000 is “unsustainable”.

McKnight said: “I don’t think we can afford to pay to train two nights a week at John Cumming Stadium as well as hiring it for three hours when playing on a Saturday.

“I have been at Rovers for seven or eight years and I think mistakes were made by those running the club when Tesco bought the land at Rovers’ old Loch Park Stadium (demolished in April 2011).

“The Rovers committee back then should have future proofed the club by insisting that we wanted a 50 or 100-year lease for John Cumming Stadium for the same cost at it was for playing on the grass pitch at Loch Park.

“Then we wouldn’t have been liable for the three or five per cent increases every year due to inflation and Rovers would have had a stable long term financial future.

“If we can’t get a 50 per cent discount to hire Cumming Stadium the status quo is unsustainable. Surely the owners are better with 50 per cent of something rather than 100 per cent of nothing.

“It would be nice to think South Lanarkshire Leisure would be able to look after their best customer.”

Rovers were due to meet with South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture chiefs to discuss their concerns about stadium costs last month.

But this meeting was put on hold following the suspension of the leisure body’s boss Gerry Campbell amid a row over how a staff grievance was handled.

A spokesperson for South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture responded to McKnight's concerns by telling us on Thursday: “We have been very supportive of Carluke Rovers over the years and will continue to engage with the club. We are happy to meet with them to discuss any concerns they may have.”

If Rovers’ current predicament off the field could be described as chaotic, then onfield matters are anything but as last weekend’s 4-1 win in Glasgow made it five league games unbeaten for them.

Fourth placed Rovers are just one point adrift of the automatic League Two promotion places with a game in hand over third placed Vale of Leven.

And that’s thanks to the success at St Anthony’s, where visiting keeper Dave Cherrie was an undoubted hero when making six outstanding saves.

Ian added: “To be fair, if it wasn’t for Dave then we could possibly have come off with a 7-4 defeat.”

Rovers were prolific at the other end as well, with goals by Ciaran Lafferty (2) and Shaun Watson putting them 3-0 up by half-time.

After Ants had pulled a goal back, Rovers sealed it with a Greg Kane strike.