Situation is different to MK Dons
14 March ~ Last Saturday Clyde, of the Scottish Third Division, held a members' meeting to discuss relocating the club. The proposal is to move from Broadwood in Cumbernauld to a site 20 miles away in East Kilbride. A name change has also been suggested to "EK Clyde". This is not the first time the club have moved a considerable distance. After almost 90 years playing at Shawfield in the Rutherglen area of Glasgow, Clyde were served notice by their landlords. They shared with Partick Thistle and then Hamilton Academical before finally moving to Cumbernauld in 1994.
The logic was simple. Cumbernauld was a town without a football club and Clyde – a club with a fairly prestigious past – did not have a home. Clyde became tenants in the stadium owned by North Lanarkshire Leisure. Their first game at Broadwood, against Hamilton, attracted 6,000 spectators but the crowds dropped as the club soon found themselves in the third tier for 1994-95.
Despite returning to Division One at the turn of the Millennium, challenging for promotion to the SPL and knocking Celtic out of the cup they still struggled to attract significant crowds. The recession then coincided with relegation to the Division Two in 2009 and the club ran into severe financial difficulty. Another relegation swiftly followed. In November 2010 the club restructured and became a one-member-one-vote democracy. Now all paying members have an equal say in the running of the club.
A month after the revolution Clyde announced their intention to move. A statement on the club's website said: "Development at Broadwood in recent years and limitations of the lease mean that the club is unable to operate on a long term sustainable basis compatible with its ambitions." They later stated that the lease is unsustainable for both landlord and tenant. Renegotiating the lease was not an option "as the business models of both organisations cannot work without undermining each other".
In October 2011 the club stated they were unable to find a new site in or close to Cumbernauld. The same statement first proposed East Kilbride and last week's announcement kickstarted a six-week consultation period with members voting on April 20. To the naked eye the move bears resemblance to MK Dons. East Kilbride, like Milton Keynes, is a new town and (in the context of Scotland) has a very large population for a town without a senior football club. The proposed name change is also strikingly similar.
However, the context is completely different. Cumbernauld is also a new town but Clyde had been playing there for almost ten years before Pete Winkleman ripped Wimbledon out of London. East Kilbride is closer to Clyde's historic base in Rutherglen than Cumbernauld is, cutting travelling distance in half for Rutherglen-based fans. It means the supporters most likely to be alienated by the move would be those in Cumbernauld, picked up over the last two decades; the same fans who benefited from the club leaving their roots.
The most important distinction is that it would be the fans themselves voting for any move and name change. There is no Winkleman figure trying to make personal gains by uprooting a football club – this would be fans doing what they think is right to ensure the continued survival of their club. For traditionalists it is the name change which annoys the most. A Twitter search shows a definite split, with some strongly against adopting EK while others see adding two letters to the name as a worthwhile sacrifice for a beneficial move from Broadwood. Simon Meechan