Two major sports pitches in Lochaber could get a new lease of life if a bid to a national sports body for funding is successful.
Applications have been made to SportScotland for matched funding to enable improved drainage to be provided at both An Aird at Fort William and at Jubilee Park, Ballachulish, where conditions have been frequently come under fire.
If approved, an injection of around £120,000 would be made for improved drainage to the pitch and stand upgrading at An Aird and around £60,000 for drainage works at Jubilee Park.
Highland Council has committed £60,000 and £30,000 respectively for these projects from its education, culture and sport budget and is now awaiting a decision from the national organisation, hopefully, within the next two to three months.
The investment from the council is in addition to an earlier capital spend of £35,000 for Claggan Park, the home of Fort William Highland League club; £10,000 for Lochaber Rugby Club’s ground at Banavie; £10,000 at An Aird and £2,000 at Canal Parks since 2007.
An allocation of £40,000 for a new pavilion at Kilmallie Shinty Club is also being held as a contribution to a future Sportscotland application.
In addition to these outlays, £102,792 was spent on maintenance of Lochaber pitches last year, with expenditure this year currently exceeding £34,000.
The council has recently come under fire for allegedly favouring shinty over other sports in the provision of facilities in Lochaber
It was recently reported that up to £4million is to be spent on upgrading the pitches at An Aird, a frequent venue for shinty’s Camanachd Cup final; Canal Parks at Caol and Jubilee Park at Ballachulish – all predominantly shinty venues.
But in the meantime, drainage problems at Banavie pitch and at the Claggan Park have meant frequent match cancellations.
Fort William FC chairman John Watssman has voiced his concern that no provision had been made for improvements at Claggan Park.
In a letter to the council, he said: “The announcement to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ money on improvements to local shinty grounds could be interpreted as bias on the council’s behalf.”
He said there had been no expenditure on the pavilion or stand at Claggan, and warned that in its present state, the facilities failed to meet the criteria, which could seriously impact on its membership of the SFA.
Rugby club coach Charlie Donaldson felt that certain resources were given to those who shouted loudest.