Aberdeen's controversial plans for a new stadium are to be the subject of a public inquiry. Although Aberdeen City Council accepted their planning committee's recommendation to award planning permission, it is Scottish executive Ministers who will have the final say. The 'calling in' of the plans by the Scottish Executive (the officials who advise the government) could well delay the project by over nine months. With the new stadium linked very closely to the SFA joint bid (with the Football Association of Ireland) for the EURO2008 championship, such a delay may mean the new ground cannot form part of the final list of grounds planned to be used for the championships.
|30,000 seater planned for Kingswell|
Unsurprisingly, protesters against the planned Kingswells location for the new ground welcomed the decision, while the executive insist that the delay will not hamper their bid to host the tournament. Alan Stott, of Kingswells Community Council, said: "The problem lies with Aberdeen Football Club, not the protesters. If they had chosen the right location to start with there would not have been a protest." However, Aberdeen are not best pleased about the delay which could kill the North East's chance to be part of the EURO2008 bid. Chief executive Keith Wyness said: "It does leave a big question mark over the north east as being part of the 2008 bid. However, UEFA are looking for the greatest degree of certainty possible and in this case we couldn't deliver it. But we are one step closer to getting the final decision and I think they will take that into account. We hope to be part of the bid in 2008."
With UEFA announcing the location for the 2008 European Championships on either 12th or 13th December this year, there are not enough months to complete the inquiry in time. The planned new stadiums in Aberdeen and Dundee are considered to be key elements of Scotland's joint bid with Ireland. Officials at the Scottish Executive said the bid could go ahead with or without the Aberdeen stadium. Their optimism is grounded on the interest shown in being involved by Hibs, Hearts, Motherwell and Falkirk. The officials also consider there was plenty of time to hold an inquiry and then build a stadium before 2008 came around. Not so sure that UEFA will want to accept a bid which includes a ground that could be halted by the outcome of a public inquiry.