On April 20th prior to their home game with Montrose, the owners of Scottish Third Division club Clyde F.C. overwhelmingly voted in favour of both a change in home and name. The club currently based in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire at the Broadwood Stadium have plans to relocate to East Kilbride, a town around six miles from Clyde’s spiritual home in the south side of Glasgow, from where the club still draws the majority of its support, and as part of the process they would become EK Clyde Football Club.
Having been founded in 1877 on the banks of the River Clyde, the club moved to the Shawfield Stadium in Rutherglen on the southern fringes of the Glasgow city boundary in 1898. The Bully Wee remained there until 1986. Following their eviction from Shawfield by the owners, the Greyhound Racing Association, they entered into ground-sharing arrangements, firstly with Partick Thistle at Firhill between 1986 and 1991 and then with Hamilton Academicals at (Old) Douglas Park between 1991 and 1994, after which they first took up residence in Cumbernauld.
Back in 2010, the Clyde board of directors first announced their intention to move from Broadwood Stadium having almost been evicted by North Lanarkshire Leisure, a part of North Lanarkshire Council, over an unpaid rent dispute just a year earlier. The decision to swap one of Scotland’s new towns, Cumbernauld, for another in the form of East Kilbride, began to be investigated more fully during 2011 when discussions began with several interested parties, the most notable being the East Kilbride Community Trust (EKCT), a registered charity.
At the club’s Extraordinary General Meeting on April 20, three resolutions were put to the owners to vote on. In the first resolution, the board requested a mandate to “make all appropriate arrangements to allow the club to relocate to a location of their choice in or around East Kilbride.” The resolution was carried with a margin of 93% with a YES 285 to NO 21 result. The second resolution stated, “Subject to the board being satisfied that all appropriate steps have been taken to enable the company to move to premises in or around East Kilbride, that the company’s name be changed to EK Clyde Football Club Community Interest Company.” The resolution was carried with a margin of 84% with a YES 257 to NO 49 result. The third resolution, which was also carried with a margin of 85%, gave the directors their stipulations on voting guidelines should any future name change from EK Clyde Football Club be proposed. Clyde, who are 50% fan owned through a supporters trust, are Scotland’s first Community Interest Company with a one member one vote system similar to that of top Bundesliga clubs. The April 20 ballot recorded a turnout of 82% of those eligible to take part.
Any move by the club to East Kilbride will see the largest town in Scotland without a senior football club finally gain League representation. The South Lanarkshire town is home to junior club, East Kilbride Thistle, with whom talks were held in 2011 over a ground share at their Showpark home, and East Kilbride F.C. who were formed in 2010 and whose ambition is to become the town’s first ever professional club. Their ground, K Park, was built and is operated by EKCT, Clyde’s partners in the relocation project. There have been reports that Clyde will merge with East Kilbride F.C. as part of the process with the addition of the EK prefix to the clubs name a move to recognise the amateur outfit, but these rumours have so far been denied by the Clyde board of directors.
The Bully Wee’s fortunes have been gradually worsening in the last decade. As recently as 2003-04 they were just pipped to the post for promotion to the SPL and in 2006 they famously dumped Celtic out of the Scottish Cup. They currently find themselves languishing near the foot of the Scottish Third Division blighted by dwindling attendances and poor finances. It is these difficulties that have prompted the decision to move to East Kilbride in the hope of a rejuvenated and sustainable future with a new stadium closer to their traditional supporter base. In March 2013, South Lanarkshire Council revealed that Clyde had also approached them about a possible return to Rutherglen but it now seems the club have opted for the East Kilbride option. With the assistance of EKCT various sites are being investigated. The Rolls Royce plant at Nerston Industrial Estate, which closes in 2015, has been touted as a potential location for a 10,000 seat stadium. Until a final decision is confirmed, Clyde will remain at Broadwood for the next two seasons.
While this move may be welcomed by those supporters from the south side of Glasgow for whom the relocation would be geographically more convenient, the fans from the Cumbernauld area who have taken to the club since being supplanted there in 1994 are less likely to follow Clyde the 18 miles to East Kilbride. Various internet forum and social media chatter have thrown up a mixed response to the vote with many supporters indicating their feelings of opposition to the move known with a substantial proportion believing they will find it difficult to follow the club under the new banner of EK Clyde and in a different town altogether. The Clyde board have announced further consultations with supporters will take place to determine the next steps.