Kilmarnock football fans treated as 'pariahs' and put in 'danger' by road rules

-Credit: (Image: Photo credit - Tigarstorm Photography)
-Credit: (Image: Photo credit - Tigarstorm Photography)

Football fans in Kilmarnock are being treated as ‘pariahs’ and are being put in danger when leaving Rugby Park according to an East Ayrshire Councillor.

Councillor John McGhee said that parking restrictions put in place in the surrounding streets after residents’ complaints, said that the fans were not being afforded the same courtesy.

The Annick member said that the move had left more fans, from both the home and visiting teams, being asked to walk further and further, including those who may find the walk difficult.

And he said supporters were being put at risk as thousands are forced to share roads with traffic when leaving the stadium.

He said: “Having a fairly successful Kilmarnock football team isn’t a bad thing for the town. It seems to me that folk trying attend rugby park are being treated as pariahs and are not wanted there. It is very, very difficult to park near ground.

“Are we going to consult with the fans as to what could maybe help them?

“There is also the safety of fans when they leave the ground. If 8,000 people are coming out of the gate. Then they don’t fit on a pavement, yet when you’re walking up the road the traffic is allowed to drive up the road along the way.

“But if you go to any other ground in Scotland, whether that is Dunfermline, Raith Rovers, Celtic or Rangers, that doesn’t happen.

“I’m wondering what we can do to make folk safe, working in partnership with the club, to make sure folk can get to the football.

“Folk coming into the town bring some income into the town and I think we need to be working to make sure everybody can get to the ground.”

Jane Corrie, Head of Ayrshire Roads Alliance, said that the council had been working with the club to identify areas for off street parking.

The traffic restrictions around Rugby Park will be reviewed at the end of the new football season, to decide whether to make them permanent.

She added: “We’ve obviously got strike a balance with the needs of the residents and the needs of the fans that are travelling.”

She said that there were a number of parking options, but acknowledged the issue of those having to walk and said there needed to be more work to develop safe active travel routes for them.

Cllr McGhee acknowledged the issues that residents have raised, but pointed out that Rugby Park has been there for more than a century.

“There is certain amount of inconvenience that happens maybe twenty times a season. Surely it is just a question of asking the police to stop the traffic moving while the pedestrians are moving along the road.

“It happens at every other ground. I find that strange that supporters in East Ayrshire are treated less well than those across the whole of Scotland.

“We need to say that the fans have the right to remain safe as they exit the ground.”

Councillor David Richardson pointed out that the area around Holmquarry Road, traditionally where away fans are directed to, results in away fans having to cross paths with Kilmarnock fans, with the away stand being the furthest from them.

Ms Corrie said that it was her understanding that the other clubs referred to by Cllr McGhee paid for police presence and that the club would have to come to an arrangement.

However, Kilmarnock FC confirmed that they only pay for the police presence within the stadium perimeters.

A club spokesperson said: “We are only responsible for Security and Policing inside the perimeter of the stadium grounds. We have no control on the decisions taken with on or off street parking out with the stadium footprint.".

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We have a strong relation with Kilmarnock Football Club and liaise with the club throughout the season.

“Proportionate policing plans are established ahead of fixtures and we work closely with the club and partner agencies to ensure the safety of those in attendance and minimise the disruption to the local community.”

It was also pointed out that there have been road closures, including Dundonald Road to Dundonald Place, to support the safety of supporters.

The council agreed to discuss the issue with the police and football club.

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