EDINBURGH continue to target a move to a custom-built, 7,800-seater, ‘mini-Murrayfield’ stadium on the back pitches of the international campus at some point during the season ahead, but Dominic McKay – the Chief Operating Officer of the Scottish Rugby Union – has warned that there can be no guarantees.
“I would very much hope so,” he said, when asked if next season is a realistic target, during yesterday’s launch of a new partnership agreement between the SRU and Johnnie Walker whisky. “That is our expectation, but I don’t want to make any promises that are not in our control to deliver. If it was in our control, it would be built by now.”
It is almost 13 months since plans were first unveiled to relocate the capital club from the international pitch at Murrayfield to a facility which they can truly call their own, but work is yet to begin on constructing the new venue. The initial expectation was that Richard Cockerill’s side would kick-off the 2019-20 campaign at the new site, but while the City of Edinburgh Council have given planning permission to the projected they are yet to grant a building warrant.
“I am growing grey hairs as a result of the time it is taking to work through some of the red tape in this city,” added McKay at yesterday’s launch of the SRU’s new partnership deal with Johnnie Walker whisky. “We’ve had a very positive experience through in Glasgow, where we’ve done some great work. So, it is great to see some of our colleagues here from the City [of Edinburgh Council] because we’ve got a developing relationship – an important relationship – and we need them to pull out the stops to make sure we can deliver this facility.
“We’ve got our planning permission but there are a few bits of red tape to work through, so [it will be] as soon as possible. There has been progress. Naturally, doing a facility as large as we’re trying to do takes some people a while to get their head around, so we’re working our way through that as fast as we possibly can.
“We’ve got the land here, we’ve got the space here, we’ve got the vision and the money to make it happen, so hopefully we can issue an update in the very near future.”
McKay is the first senior executive at Murrayfield to speak publicly since it was announced that a governance review of the organisation has been commissioned to be led by former Scotland internationalist and oil explorer Sir Bill Gammell.
The review has been criticised for lacking independence as Gammell has a pre-existing relationship with Chief Executive Mark Dodson, but also chaired a recent Murrayfield committee to select the teams which will play in the SRU’s controversial Super 6 league next season.
Sheriff Bill Dunlop – the architect of the existing governance structure which came into being in 2005 – has also questioned the need for a review, indicating that people in positions of power not doing their jobs properly is the real problem facing the organisation.
“We said last year that we wanted to have a look at the governance of the organisation and that’s now started, I’ll leave it to the great minds to look at it and reflect on it,” said McKay. “It is not really something that I feel I should be commenting on at this time. We’re suggesting that Bill Gammell looks at it, he comes back with his recommendations to the Board and Council, and as a result we’ll take that to the membership.”