Dumbarton FC stadium at the Rock. Will it soon be sold?

By Bill Heaney

Dumbarton FC’s football ambitions for the new century appear to be modest since the club plans to develop upmarket housing in a large car park around the Rock Stadium at Castle Road in the East End.

The proposal, which was submitted by Brabco, the majority shareholders who were led by the late Calum Hosie, have been approved by West Dunbartonshire Council.

This has led to some head scratching amongst fans since the development is for five modern villas and 32 flats but part of the land in question is subject to flooding from the River Leven.

Sons logoAnd that the security over that land is still owned by the former proprietor, Falkirk businessman Neil Rankine. Rankine was still around when the then MP Lord McFall negotiated cash support from local business concerns, the local council and Scottish Enterprise to establish the Rock stadium on its present site. Rankine’s long-term legal adviser, Helensburgh solicitor Douglas Dalgleish, died just a month ago and was succeeded in that role by his partner, John Steele, who is now chairman of the club.

Also hanging over the whole business is the application that was refused to build a new stadium at Young’s Farm, near the old Phoenix Park, at Dennystown.

And the fact too that there is a committee still extant to administer the so-called “golden share” which was put in place to protect the new stadium land being sold off against the will of the community.

People with an interest in the heritage aspects of the site in relation to the Castle and the benefits the community derives from being a valued part of the community

The Phoenix Park was created at Wee Dublin, which Dennystown was called because of the large Irish immigrant community who lived there, and was named after the city park, where the official residence of the President of the Republic of Ireland is situated, and where the Pope, Saint John Paul II, celebrated a Pontifical High Mass during a visit to Ireland in 1979.

It is being speculated by some Sons’ supporters that the football club now desperately wants to cash in and to sell their present stadium – the Rock at Dumbarton Castle – to a building company.

It was once reported in the media that land was valued at £14 million to a building company.

Turnberry Homes, who have built most of the new houses in the Castlegreen area of Newtown, have been strip sponsors for Sons in the recent past.



  1. It is difficult not to view many football clubs as nothing less than property developers.

    Consider the relocation from Bog Park to the present site. In that case the vacated Bog Park was developed as houses. And this again appears to be exactly the same circumstance where the current ground is being given up for houses.

    Such change of use is a tried and tested concept. Clydebank FC or St Johnstone in Perth the list goes on and on. Is it a good thing. Well that’s a question. There’s certainly big money to be made and I note that the quoted land value of the land below the castle is £14 million.

    And in the value of land, through change of use, one can now see how there is so much concern about the land at Loch Lomond being sold to Flamingo Land for a notional £200,000. In response to a question from one of our councillors about why Flamingo Land needed to own the land ( as opposed to say a long lease ) the response was that ownership that was just how their business model worked.

    It doesn’t therefore take too much thinking to see how in maybe ten years time that an application for the change of use of from glampng pods and chalets to private up market housing on the banks of the loch could unleash huge land profits for Flamingo Land or any associated property development companies. But that’s Loch Lomond, and not land at the bottom of Dumbarton Castle. If the Scottish Government want to sell off a large swathe of National Park land for the relative chicken feed price of a big house plot – well folks need to ask the questions.

    As to the land at the bottom of the castle. Well is more housing what we want for this area. Again that’s a question folks need to ask. But this time it is a council question and folks might like to ask about public amenity in the area.

    But maybe one final question. One very important question. With all of the big money that’s involved in land where permission is granted to build housing – how is the area going to cope with all of the increased traffic. It barely copes at present with the roads regularly gridlocked – so how will it cope in future.

    Now that’s a question as we sit gridlocked behind the ambulance trying to make its way to Paisley. Maybe some folks would like to discuss?

  2. And one other question that maybe should be asked about the proposal for housing at the bottom of the castle is who actually owns the land, has legal title to it.

    Maybe the sleuths from the town’s historical society could have a look at that one and proffer any thoughts that they have.

    Tioraidh an-drasda!

Leave a Reply