Comment: Clan on a knife edge

Glasgow Clan have grown considerably since 2010, but their future is uncertain (PHOTO: Al Goold)

The news that Glasgow Clan have effectively halted their preparations for the new season is something that manages to excite and terrify at the same time.

We knew last year when Intu, the company who ran Braehead Shopping Centre and its adjoining arena that, along with the coronavirus pandemic, Clan were fighting for their future.

It’s not overdramatic to suggest it’s still the same with the news they’re channelling all their efforts into securing their home before they can consider signing a coach and a team. In fact, it’s becoming a battle.

Let’s not be under any illusion.  The ramifications are huge on this.  Global Mutual, the London-based asset management company who took over the shopping centre from crippled Intu, are looking to offload the arena, with Clan looking to buy it.

If Global Mutual decide to go with another offer, you can only surmise it could spell the end of the Clan after 11 years in existence.  The other option is to find somewhere else to play, but in this climate, where?

The club have issued a call to arms to the Purple Army as they try to preserve their future and when you consider how they started to where they are, losing one of the country’s fast-growing sports teams would be disastrous.

Everyone has their reasons for why they fell in love with the Clan and why it matters to them. For me, it’s far deeper than a team to watch and the excitement game nights can bring.

It helped to shape the career I have in the sport and provided me with opportunities I never had.  I was the only media person in Sweden and Germany covering them when they played in the CHL in 2015.

I’ve written many a piece for them on the site or for the Scottish newspapers and they’ve even indulged me in letting me do something I wanted to do as a kid – commentate on live sport.

On a hugely person level, it’s because of the Clan that I met my wife and from there, we had a daughter, who also loves coming to the games and has done so since she was a baby in arms.  She’s nearly six and still asks if we’re going to go back.

Matt Haywood is the only player to have been with the club since it began in 2010 (PHOTO: Scott Wiggins)

It was bad enough telling her that one of her favourite players, Linden Springer, wouldn’t be coming back when he announced his retirement last year.  I dread ever having to tell her we can’t go back.

You look at someone like the captain, Matt Haywood, who arrived as a teenager. A kid from Yorkshire taking his first steps as a pro in the sport.

A decade later, he’s grown up with the club.  He’s put down roots here, bought a house with his wife and two daughters and, despite the accent, is as Glaswegian as he would probably care to admit.

When the club started in 2010, it initially leaned on the fans in Ayrshire who followed the Ayr Scottish Eagles and that soon filtered into Glasgow and the surrounding areas when more and more people began to realise there was something different going on in Braehead Arena on a Saturday night.

Crowds from 800 to 1,000 in their first season back in 2010-11 mushroomed to sell out attendances of just 3,500 are telling of just how far they’ve come.  Their Twitter following of just under 32,000 is the envy of many professional football clubs as well.

Ryan Finnerty is the club’s longest serving coach, working ther between 2013 and 2017 and led them to a second place finish in 2015 (PHOTO: Al Goold)

The plans they have would give them the sort of elevation Cardiff Devils got when they moved to Ice Arena Wales.  That’s no exaggeration.  With more licence to improve the game night experience and all other areas, the possibilities are endless for them.

Moving anywhere else would sound the death knell for the sport in the West of Scotland it’s not just the Clan this would affect, if the worst case scenario were to materialise.  SNL side Paisley Pirates would find themselves homeless and the junior and recreational clubs who call Braehead home would also face a very uncertain future.

Having the Clan has enriched the area as well as the sport in so many regards.  It gives sports fans an alternative on a Saturday night and for many people, it’s a social life as well.  How devastating a loss would that be too?

Plus, who else are Fife Flyers going to chirp if the Clan weren’t to return?

Glasgow Clan’s future is in the hands of Global Mutual.  Let’s hope they do the right thing.

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