The chairman of Tayport Football Club has urged that a public access path inside the stadium should be closed off, after a spate of anti-social behaviour.
Within the last few weeks several attempts were made to damage a van within The Canniepart stadium before it was torched on Monday.
Police Sergeant, Matt Spencer of St Andrews Police Station confirmed they were investigating the incident.
Chairman, David Baikie, said there have been a number of issues prior to the blaze, including the stand being turned into a makeshift drinking den for youths.
The club’s grounds on Shanwell Road are also the home of the famous Tayport Car Boot sale which has recently returned after lockdown.
‘The flames must have been 15 or 20 feet high’
Mr Baikie, a former East Fife manager, said the van that was damaged was connected to the car boot sale operation, as sellers could rent tables and railings from it.
“They’ve been captured on CCTV, there were two lads on bikes and they were here with intent to do what they did to the van,” David said.
“They were here for hours, it took them so long to get the fire started and it eventually took hold after 1am on Monday.
“From what we can see on the camera, it looks like they were maybe videoing it as the fire took hold. The flames must have been 15 or 20 foot high.
“This is the fourth attempt on this van in recent weeks, one of the incidents involved primary school kids using slabs to smash the windscreen.
“The man who had this van on site has been running this table and railing hire business for the car boot for 20-odd years and now that’s stopped.”
Club looking to move forward
The club, currently playing in the Midlands League, are in the pyramid system to try and get into the Highland League and Mr Baikie admits anti-social behaviour is not helping their attempts to improve as he urged action.
He added: “We are in the process of trying to make a raft of improvements at the ground.
“We are only one division away from getting into the Highland League and we need to have a full license to get into it.
“This means ground improvements, enclosed ground and a floodlight system.
“How are we going to achieve that with a public access path and people coming in and wrecking the place?
“The public access only came in about 1996 and we’d been on this ground for over 20-years prior to that.
“This used to be a pig farm so there was never any public access previously.
“At that time in 1996 the club was told it could lock the public access during matchdays and in darkness.
“That would mean a club volunteer potentially getting up at 4.30am to allow public access in the summer and who are we to constitute what’s ‘darkness’?”
Working with the community
He added: “This club is an integral part of this community, we have an amateur side, running club, walking football, school sports, local youth summer school all using the facilities.
“There are alternative routes people could choose to walk other than coming through the ground.
“All we are asking is that a little common sense could perhaps prevail here, close the gate off and help us prevent the vandalism.”
Fife Councillor, Tim Brett admitted the decision to have public access at the ground was “odd”.
He added: “What happened over the weekend was totally unacceptable.
“To me it is odd that we have a right-of-way going through a football ground.
“I’ve been down there, I’ve walked it and my understanding is you can walk around the outside of the ground just as quickly to get to the same destination.
“We need to start a dialogue with community about this access and find ways to help the club and stop this from happening again.”
Fife Council’s Access Officer, Sarah Johnston confirmed that the council is working with the police to support the football club while making sure that the public’s right of access is protected.
Police Sergeant, Matt Spencer of St Andrews Police Station said: “We were called around 1.30am on Monday, 17 May, to a report of a van on fire within the grounds of Tayport Football Club.
“No one was injured and inquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances. Anyone who knows who was responsible should contact Police Scotland on 101, quoting 0178 of 17 May.”