Partick Thistle secure funding for £4m training centre to build on top-six spot
Partick Thistle are to receive £4m funding for their first-ever dedicated training ground and believe it will help them compete for future honours.
The Glasgow club secured a top-six finish in the Scottish Premiership with Saturday's 1-0 win over Motherwell.
Now they have announced funding for the new facility from the Weir family who won £160m on the lottery in 2011.
Partick Thistle managing director Ian Maxwell agreed it could help keep the Jags at the top end of the table.
"I think it gives us that opportunity," he told BBC Scotland. "It is transformational. This is the missing link we've had for a while.
"It is an amazing thing to be able to announce and I don't think the club will truly understand the difference it is going to make until we are 10-15 years down the line and we can see the benefits."
No site has yet been earmarked for the project, but the Three Black Cats, a company set up by Colin and Christine Weir to provide long-term investment, hopes to have it up-and-running within two years.
"It will be Glasgow or the Greater Glasgow area," said Maxwell, who pointed out that city rivals Celtic and Rangers both already have out-of-town facilities.
"It doesn't necessarily have to be Maryhill or anywhere near the stadium."
Thistle's various squads presently use different training facilities at locations spread around Glasgow, with Maxwell pointing out that the academy's six teams alone use "half a dozen sites on any night of the week".
Now the Three Black Cats will work with the Maryhill-based club to design and build the new training ground to Thistle's specification.
It will then be leased to the football club on a long-term basis and Maxwell paid tribute to the Weir family for their latest gesture.
"They have been absolutely incredible," he said. "They've been great for the club over a number of seasons.
"They have helped with the academy and this is the next step. This is a real legacy statement."
Thistle chairman David Beattie said it had been "a long-term ambition of the club" to house their first-team, youth and women's teams in one facility.
"The money we currently spend on facilities around Glasgow will be used to service our lease and costs at the new ground," he said.
"It reinforces that we are an established Premiership club, with a level of professionalism and ambition that these new facilities will reflect."
A Three Black Cats spokesman said they had been looking for a new long-term investment opportunity.
"Thistle's ongoing stability - through the club management's financial prudence and through the board's strong leadership - persuaded us that this development is a worthwhile investment, " he said.
"It will be an exciting project and we are keen to get on with securing land as soon as possible.
"It is our intention to have the facility completed and operational within two years and will work closely with Thistle to ensure that it is fit for purpose."
Thistle Weir Youth Academy director Gerry Britton hopes it will help the club fill their first-team with home-grown players and become one of the best places in the country to produce new talent.
"I really still can't believe it," he said. "It is always something we had dreamt of - to have our new facility - and it's fantastic news.
"It might double the amount of contact time we have with each player and it will enhance their development and ability to reach their potential."