Aberdeen will be in “strong contention” to host international rugby matches if the Kingsford development is given the go-ahead later this month, the sports governing body has said.

Scottish Rugby has backed Aberdeen FC’s proposed community sports hub, training facilities and new stadium.

Dominic McKay, chief operating officer, has written to the SPFL club to offer the organisation’s ‘full support’ for the plans near Westhill.

The governing body has endorsed Aberdeen’s vision for co-located facilities, stating the combination of community and football training facilities, situated alongside a new stadium, will help boost sports participation and performance, health and well-being across the north east.

Mr McKay said that Kingsford would put Aberdeen in strong contention for hosting international matches, including those in the Autumn Test series, which Scottish Rugby is committed to taking outwith Murrayfield in the future.

Pittodrie has staged four matches since 2005, with the most recent fixture taking place in 2012 when Scotland beat Tonga 21-15.

Mr McKay added: “We have been in discussion with AFC regarding the proposed new stadium to ensure it will have the facilities for, and meet the requirements of, hosting international rugby matches, hence the increase of pitch dimensions to 70m at Kingsford.

“We are also keen to look at other opportunities for working closely with the club to mutually benefit both sports and both organisations.”

The Dons believe this further endorsement of their plans reinforces the economic case for moving away from Pittodrie to Kingsford.

Chairman Stewart Milne said: “With a larger, modern stadium, which meets the requirements for international football and rugby, Kingsford will ensure we can secure major sporting events which attract strong support.

“Today’s news from Scottish Rugby will be welcomed by the many fans of the sport in the north east. It also underlines the already strong economic case for the plans by promising a boost for leisure tourism in the region.”

The controversial proposals will see £50million invested to create a new home for the Dons with football training pitches and academy and a base for the expansion of the award-winning work of the Aberdeen FC Community Trust.

However, the proposals have been opposed by the No to Kingsford group, which argues the scheme will create serious parking problems, is in contravention of the local development plan, and could spark violence between rival fans.

The matter will be voted on by Aberdeen City councillors on January 29.

Originally published Press and Journal – 22 January 2018

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