IT is not just on the pitch that Falkirk try to impress. A club who are almost certain to return to the Scottish Premierleague are rising, literally, from the rubble of financial catastrophe. The erection of a second stand at Falkirk Stadium will be completed by the end of this month.

Once the yellow-jacketed engineers have completed their work on the North Stand, the ground will have a capacity of 6,122. That's 123 more than the SPL demand before membership to their cartel will be granted and so, having been denied promotion twice in the last five years, only the requisite safety certificates and Clyde now stand between Falkirk and their due rewards.

According to managing director George Craig, the SPL's deadline of March 31 will be met. Denied access to the top tier in 2000, and again, in bitter circumstances, two years ago, only a First Division collapse will deny a resurgent Falkirk. Nobody's betting on it.

In the manner of John Hughes and his players, Falkirk's achievements behind the scenes are being done in some style. While the stand approaching completion is a modest pounds-1.5 million construction, the West Stand which Falkirk introduced at the start of the season, is a very handsome cantilever erection which cost pounds-9m.

The SPL's operations director Ian Blair could not have left the 70-acre Westfield site on the boundary between Falkirk and Grangemouth anything other than impressed when he visited this month. Once all four stands have been put up, Falkirk Stadium, with an anticipated capacity of nearly 13,000, will unquestionably be one of the best in Scotland.

"We had a very positive meeting, " said managing director Craig. "He felt it was a bit like arriving at his own place of work, which is, of course, Hampden. Everything is on schedule for the new stand and certification to be in place by March 31. After that it will be a case of Yogi [Hughes] doing his bit."

The West Stand, as well as seating 4,116 fans in some comfort, also boasts impressive, money-generating, facilities which should help Falkirk achieve their aim of being a genuine community club. As well as the expected hospitality suites high up in the edifice, there is office and conference space, while the changing facilities for both sets of teams are probably second to none in Scotland and will attract representative games.

The North stand is more functional, with seating for 2,006, and Craig admits it was a huge relief when the SPL relaxed their requirement for 10,000-seater stadiums.

"The challenge would have been a lot more onerous, " he said, "but as a football club we need to be playing in the top level. If the cost of membership was 10,000 seats that's a challenge we'd need to have risen to."

As the managing director is eager to stress, the ground and the acreage round about it is not owned by the football club but by Falkirk Community Stadium Ltd. The decision when to add the third and fourth stands which will make the stadium outstanding, will be taken in consultation with partners Falkirk Council, but Craig pointed out: "The timescale is as quick as possible. We're on a 70-acre site and have developed 30 acres of it.

We're hoping the remaining 40 will be attractive to a property developer, and that we can then do a deal to build the new stands."

With five-a-side football pitches nearing completion, plans well advanced for a bistro and health and fitness club on the site, the wasteland which was once laughingly described as green belt is becoming a leisure Mecca for the communities it serves. That, to Craig, is a personal mission.

"We wanted to develop the community concept, " he said, "and that would have been difficult in a breezeblock stadium. You could have played football in it and that would be the end of it.

"I believe the football club should play a large part in the work of the community. We want to touch as many lives as we can. I know once a fortnight we see the supporters, but we can go far, far, beyond that. We've got one of the most diverse, and inclusive, community schemes of any club."

As he reels off the various ways in which his club are working with local schools and organisations, it quickly becomes clear that Craig - who in 2000 stood as a candidate in the Falkirk West by-election to draw attention to the club's problems in finding, and financing, an alternative ground to Brockville - is Messianic in his mission to make Falkirk a cornerstone of the community.

Even Central Scotland Police are sponsors of one scheme, the Twilight Leagues, which takes teenagers with behavioural problems off the streets and out of the parks on weekend evenings and allows them to play organised five-a-side football.

"I realised when I stood in the byelection that although Falkirk is a football town, people didn't perceive the football club as being of value to the community, " Craig said. "There wasn't the same opposition to the possibility of the club closing down as there would have been to the public library."

The entire space in this sports section would not be sufficient to outline Craig's enthusiasm for what Falkirk can achieve, but suffice to say that nobody in the area, from nursery school toddler to senior citizen, is safe from an involvement with the club. It's all very astute, because getting so many people involved can only build up the fan base.

This, allied to a youth development programme which is modelled on the success of Crewe Alexandra's and could lead to a link-up with Liverpool, suggests a very bright future could await Falkirk.

"We've come a long way from torchlight parades and trying to break doors down to save the club, " said Craig.

"That's when it looked like the people of Falkirk might let the football club slip away. We were saying it's worth saving. Give us a chance and we'll prove that's the case."