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The 10,000-seater football stadium with a monthly gas bill of just £1.29

An MSP has called for an investigation into why the Excelsior Stadium, the home of Airdrie United, has incurred a gas bill of about £23 in the last two years.

The Excelsior Stadium is used by Airdrie United and also hosts a range of other commercial events
The Excelsior Stadium is used by Airdrie United and also hosts a range of other commercial events

The football ground stages dozens of matches for Airdrie United every year, yet its consumption charge has regularly come in at £1.29 a month.

John Wilson, the SNP MSP for Central Scotland, called for supplier ScottishPower to launch an “immediate investigation” into the mystery.

A football source said a monthly gas bill of about £3500 would be more accurate for a club like Airdrie United, which would come to £84,000 for a two-year period.

The current bill is significantly lower than the amount paid by a pensioner or an individual living in a one-bedroom flat.

Airdrie United was formed in 2002 after Airdrieonians went into liquidation. The second division team plays at the 10,000-plus capacity Exclesior, which is used for football and a range of commercial purposes.

As well as hosting home games, the ground has staged Old Firm reserve fixtures, Scotland under-21 matches, and even European ties. Charity events have also been held there.

The Sunday Herald has established that, despite many uses, the stadium’s gas bill has been tiny.

Between March 2009 and November last year, it is understood the stadium’s monthly bill tended to total no more than £1.29. The charge twice rose to £2.63 in the same period.

This newspaper has been told the ground’s two latest gas bills are similarly puzzling.

It is also understood the two bills, while they show a small standing charge being incurred, do not charge a penny for consumption.

One bill is said to show a credit of more than £200 due to the stadium.

Airdrie United’s ground is owned by Excelsior Stadium LLP, while the stadium is run on a daily basis by Excelsior Stadium Limited.

It is the limited company that has responsibility for gas payments.

The LLP members are Irene Greene, her husband Sam and Paul Hetherington, a trio that also collectively holds the full shareholding in the company that manages the stadium.

Airdrie United is owned by a separate firm, one of whose directors is Scottish Football League president Jim Ballantyne.

However, while the chairman’s firm hires the pitch, it does not own or manage the ground.

It was reported last week that staff working at the stadium had not been paid, while stadium manager Alistair Cameron and commercial boss Morna Watkins are said to have recently walked out.

However, Hetherington said of the wage issue: “Wages weren’t paid purely down to an administration issue on the back of the general manager leaving.

We had to get other people in to pick up the pieces.”

He continued: “As for the stadium, it is financially secure and on a firm financial footing. I can assure people of that.”

The football club has also faced well-documented financial difficulties. Ballantyne last year told supporters the club had run up losses of about £100,000 over a four-month period.

The SNP’s John Wilson said: “Many ordinary gas customers are facing fuel poverty, but clearly this won’t apply to Excelsior Stadium.

“ScottishPower should carry out an immediate investigation into this situation, and it is essential the firm behind the stadium is asked about its usage of gas.”

A Labour Party spokesman said: “No-one should pay for someone else’s gas bill, but there is a strong feeling ScottishPower needs to work carefully with the stadium to ensure this situation does not damage its financial standing.

“ScottishPower also has some serious questions to answer about how many other commercial users are in the same boat.”

A ScottishPower spokesman said: “We cannot comment on the details of our customers’ accounts.”

Calls to Paul Hetherington were not returned.

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