The Sports Academy

The Sports Academy at ‘the Watt’ was developed in conjunction with top Edinburgh professional side Heart of Midlothian.  The Hearts club has made the Academy its administrative and training base.

The John Brydson Arena, which is part of the Academy, contains a grass pitch and a synthetic pitch, both floodlit.  Early in 2018, three back-to-back stand units were erected, providing spectator seating for both pitches, with paving providing hard standing on the stand side of the each ground.  Indoors, there is a half-size pitch with the same surface as the synthetic pitch in the Brydson Arena; both these playing areas were renewed in 2015 using the best synthetic material available.

The University club has regular access to the facilities, with the John Brydson Arena synthetic being the registered ground for East of Scotland League matches.  University matches are played either on the Brydson Arena synthetic or, on occasion, on the indoor synthetic within Oriam, the £33m sports facility into which the Academy has now been incorporated.  As a result of these improvements, matches are almost never postponed due to pitch problems and when training takes place indoors, the surface is the same as that used for matches.  The Watt’s training facilities remain the envy of most professional football clubs in Scotland and indeed many Scottish League clubs have hired parts of Oriam for training at one time or another.

At around the same time as the stands were built along the east side of the pitch, giving a seating capacity just under 200, a pathway was laid from the front door of Oriam, ending in a ramp up the bank to the pitch, enabling wheelchair users to reach the Arena, where there is wheelchair provision in each of the stands.  Also, with the help of funding from various sources including the East of Scotland League, opaque cladding was applied to the fencing round the ground, making the John Brydson Arena, with its stands and floodlights, a proper little football stadium.  There are a few issues yet to overcome as the Club moves towards being in a position to apply for the licence which would give it the potential to move up the pyramid if it can, but it’s all tending in the right direction.