Championship club 'racing' to complete major stadium works ahead of Celtic visit

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Celtic fans will see a new and improved Somerset Park when their side faces Ayr United in a pre-season friendly on July 5.

Ayr United are said to be confident of having their new North Stand ready for next month’s pre-season with Celtic. The Championship club are set to welcome the Hoops for an early summer clash on Friday, July 5, and with just three weeks to go, the stand is not quite ready.

But it seems the new addition to Somerset Park will be completed and approved by the time Celtic and their fans arrive in Ayr next month. A South Ayrshire Council Regulatory Panel (Licensing) meeting took place on Wednesday, and Roy Provan, Ayr United’s club safety manager, represented the club at the meeting.

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Provan said when asked if the stand will be ready to be inspected and approved on June 18: “I would be very hopeful for June 18. There were further meetings yesterday (Tuesday) with regards to the North Stand and what the issues were. It’s been all approved and materials ordered. So I'd be hopeful it will be done on time.”

The meeting took place to assess the outcome of the annual technical inspection of Somerset Park, with the club seeking further safety certificates for the ground. Council papers read: “As the newly constructed stand with a capacity of over 500 seats, this will therefore be a Regulated Stand under the Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sport Act 1987. This requires a formal application to be submitted and a Safety Certificate issued along with a set capacity. It can be confirmed that Ayr Utd have submitted the required application, and that Building Standards have reviewed the information submitted in relation to the compliance.”

The papers added: “As part of the Regulated Stand works, new turnstiles have been installed to access the North area of the ground, including the existing terracing to the front. It also included a new road to the rear of the stand and new access stairways at either end of the stand. As such, it should also be noted that as part of the inspection required for the overall Ground Safety Certificate, these areas have also been inspected/assessed for safety and compliance, along with how they interact with the existing stadium.”

In good news for Ayr, the papers also read: “It is proposed that the Regulated Stand application be accepted and that the New Safety Certificate issued on the 1st July 2024, will include the capacity of the Regulated stand within the overall ground capacity.”

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During the meeting, it was proposed that, if the inspections go well next Tuesday, the revised safety certificate is issued, allowing Ayr to open the stand for that Celtic friendly. Counsellor Martin Kilbride said: “It’s a major bit of work Ayr United have had done over the close season. The current certificate goes up to June 30, so I propose we give officers delegated powers to grant the certificate, once Building Standards are happy all building works are completed and subject to a satisfactory inspection.

“Somerset Park is in my ward naturally; I pass it every day. I’m not being cheeky to anybody here, but it’s like going from Butlin’s to Disneyland now - when you look at Ayr. I wish you well, I really do. I am a bit concerned about the time schedule (in terms of completion work) but I’m sure you’ll sort that.”

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