Football ground on market for £2.5m

Remains of terracing can still be seen at derelict stadium site.
Remains of terracing can still be seen at derelict stadium site.

The derelict former Bellshill Athletic football stadium site is up for sale - and the owner is hoping to pocket at least £2.5 million.

The ground - once reckoned to be among the best junior football venues in the country - hasn’t been used for several years.

Athletic were forced out by their former owner, Stephen McGhee, in 2009 and were playing home fixtures in Glasgow until a deal with North Lanarkshire Council allowed them to start using Rockburn Park last month.

Residents in the Hattonrigg area were furious that the ground and surrounding area was allowed to become an eyesore.

Agents are marketing the land for housing and that adds to the anger of local people who had been promised community sports facilites under the deal that allowed Athletic to build the stadium in 2002.

Bellshill Community Council member John Devlin, who has campaigned tirelessly for answers over the failed project, was shocked to discover the price tag on chartered surveyors DM Hall’s property list.

He said: “It’s disgusting that the owner stands to make £2.5 million when you consider none of the promises made at the start have been kept and an organisation like Bellshill Boys’ Club is having to beg for money to refurbish its premises.

“North Lanarkshire councillors need to consider their positions after all that has happened.”

Under Mr McGhee’s stewardship, Bellshill Athletic was given permission to sell its old Brandon Park ground to a housing developer and move to Hattonrigg.

The deal involved the club taking over the public football pitch and surrounding ground, but while the stadium was built other pitches and facilities for community use failed to materialise.

The ground continued to be used by Motherwell FC and other clubs for a spell after Athletic left, but Mr McGhee finally closed it and despite calls for the site to be cleared it fell into disrepair.

A planning application for 70 houses was lodged with North Lanarkshire Council two years ago, but withdrawn.

An earlier deal involving the sale of land close to the stadium for housing is thought to have earned Mr McGhee’s company a seven-figure sum.

Bellshill councillor Harry Curran said he expected any sale of the stadium site to be subject to the new owner getting planning permission.

He said: “I’m a member of the planning committee so I can’t comment on the issue at this stage.”

Mr Devlin said it’s wrong that developers should benefit and the site should revert to public ownership.

He added: “I don’t think it was ever the intention to have a football stadium there for the long term. It was always going to be houses in the end.”