Airdrieonians F.C.

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Airdrieonians
Airdrieonians FC logo.png
Full nameAirdrieonians Football Club
Nickname(s)The Diamonds
Founded2002;19 years ago (2002)(As Airdrie United FC)
Ground Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie
Capacity10,101 [1]
Chairman Martin Ferguson
Manager Ian Murray
League Scottish League One
2020–21 Scottish League One, 2nd of 10
Website Club website

Airdrieonians Football Club is a Scottish professional football team in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, who are members of the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) and play in Scottish League One. They were formed in 2002 as Airdrie United Football Club following the liquidation of the original Airdrieonians club, formed in 1878. The club's official name was changed in 2013 with the approval of the Scottish Football Association to the traditional name of Airdrieonians. As with the previous club, this is often colloquially shortened to simply "Airdrie".

Contents

The club have won two trophies in their short history – the Scottish Second Division in 2003–04 and the Challenge Cup in 2008–09. Once described as "the luckiest team in the Scottish League", [2] the club have benefited in league division placements due to other club's misfortunes on three occasions (2008, 2009 and 2012).

History

Formation as Airdrie United

The club was formed in 2002 as Airdrie United, following the bankruptcy of the original Airdrieonians. [3] [4]

Airdrieonians had finished runners-up in the Scottish First Division in the 2001–02 season [5] but went out of business with debts approaching £3 million. [6] The collapse of "The Diamonds", as they were known due to their distinctive kits, [7] created a vacancy in the Scottish Football League (in the Scottish Third Division). Accountant and Airdrieonians fan Jim Ballantyne attempted, with the help of others, to gain entry with a club called "Airdrie United" who were essentially to be a reincarnation of Airdrieonians. [8] Their application however was rejected as the then English Northern Premier League side Gretna were preferred by league members over the new Airdrie United. [9]

Airdrie United then went on to complete a buy-out of the ailing Second Division side Clydebank [10] and with SFL approval the club was relocated to Airdrie, [11] the strips were transformed to resemble that of Airdrieonians, and the name was changed to Airdrie United. While this means that the club is therefore officially a legal continuation of Clydebank, it is almost universally accepted as a reincarnation of Airdrieonians, with Clydebank having been reformed by supporters' groups and entering into the West Region Junior League. [12]

Early years – league title & new manager (2002–2006)

Managed by Sandy Stewart, Airdrie United's first match took place at New Broomfield [13] against Forfar Athletic in August 2002, with captain Stephen Docherty scoring the only goal of the game with Airdrie United winning 1–0. [14] Their debut season saw the club only narrowly fail to achieve promotion by one point [15] due to a late injury-time goal from Brechin City [16] which saw them promoted instead. [15] The club reached the second round of the Challenge Cup, [17] the third round of the Scottish Cup [17] and the third round of the Scottish League Cup [18] having beaten Premier League side Kilmarnock in the second round. [19]

During the rest of Stewart's tenure the club reached the final of the Challenge Cup in 2003 (losing 2–0 to Inverness Caledonian Thistle), [20] and won the Second Division title in 2003–04 season. [21] Having started poorly Airdrie went on a run that saw them unbeaten in the last 18 games of that season, [22] [23] including the final game of the league campaign which saw a crowd of over 5,700 at New Broomfield to watch Airdrie defeat Morton 2–0 and lift the League Championship trophy, [24] the club having been confirmed champions the previous week following their 1–0 victory away to Alloa Athletic at Recreation Park. [22]

In November 2006, Stewart was sacked [25] and replaced by former Airdrieonians player and Airdrie United coach Kenny Black, his first management post. [26]

Mixed fortunes – play-offs, cup win & club changes (2006–2013)

Under Kenny Black the club suffered four successive play-off defeats:

The club won the Challenge Cup in 2008, defeating Ross County 3–2 on penalties after a 2–2 draw, [37] and after this success manager Kenny Black signed a long term contract (until 2012).

After big financial cutbacks saw all players released in May 2010, [38] it was announced the club would be operating on a part-time basis. [39] The club's decision to focus on developing youth was vindicated in January 2011, as Celtic signed teenager Tony Watt for a sum of £80,000 plus add-ons. [40]

The first league game between Airdrie United and local rivals Albion Rovers took place at New Broomfield on 10 September 2011, with Airdrie winning 4–0. [41] After another play-off defeat by 6–2 on aggregate to Dumbarton in the promotion play-off final at the end of 2011–12 season [42] Airdrie were lucky again as the liquidation of the company that operated Scottish Premier League side Rangers [43] and the decision by Scottish Football League clubs that Rangers should play in the Scottish Third Division, [44] meant that an additional team from each tier of Scottish football was promoted for the 2012–13 season. [45] As Airdrie were runners up in the previous season's Second Division promotion play-offs, they were promoted to the Scottish First Division. [45] A season in the First Division came to an end in May 2013, with the club finishing bottom of the league and relegated to Division Two. [46]

Airdrieonians name returns (2013–2015)

In June 2013, the club officially changed its name from Airdrie United Football Club to Airdrieonians Football Club. [4] The name change revived the name of the club it was formed to replace in 2002, following the liquidation of the original Airdrieonians. [47] The Airdrieonians all red club crest was also revived, [48] [49] with an alternate black and red version used for the away kits. [50]

New ownership at the club (2015–2018)

In June 2015 Jim Ballantyne sold control of the club to Tom Wotherspoon, a Lanarkshire businessman and owner of M & H Logistics (who had previously sponsored Hamilton Academical, East Fife and BSC Glasgow). Wotherspoon became Chairman and Ballantyne Vice-Chairman, appointing former Scottish Sun newspaper Head of Sport Iain King as Chief Executive (King left the club in June 2016). [51]

At a meeting with fans Wotherspoon outlined his long term plans for the club including a return to full-time football should the club gain promotion to the SPFL Championship, however he announced to the media in January 2016 that the club would be returning to full-time football in the summer of 2016 (irrespective of the division they would be playing in).

In December 2016 the Airdrieonians Supporters Trust became the first fans group in the world to sponsor their team's home kit, with the strip paying tribute to Airdrie fan Mark Allison.

Despite retaining his majority shareholding Tom Wotherspoon resigned as chairman and director of Airdrieonians on 5 June 2017, with former chairman Jim Ballantyne taking Wotherspoon's place as chairman. [52]

Takeover and COVID-19 (2018–2021)

In January 2018, it was announced that a consortium of various businessmen (including former Airdrieonians manager Bobby Watson) had taken control of Tom Wotherspoon's controlling shares, bringing to an end a tumultuous period for the club. The majority of the previous board was replaced, including Jim Ballantyne, and subsequently Director of Football Gordon Dalziel (appointed Oct 2016) departed. With Excelsior Stadium representation on the new board the club also indicated that they would be abandoning Ravenscraig Sports Complex and returning to training at the stadium. [53]

Manager Ian Murray led the club to 5th, 3rd and 2nd place finishes in 2019, 2020 and 2021 respectively, with the club missing out on play-off games (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) in 2020 and losing to Championship side Morton over a 2 legged play-off final in May 2021.

Stadium

Excelsior Stadium, home of Airdrieonians Newbroomfield.PNG
Excelsior Stadium, home of Airdrieonians

Airdrie play their home fixtures at Excelsior Stadium, also unofficially known as New Broomfield, and for sponsorship reasons as the Penny Cars stadium. [54] The ground was built when now defunct Airdrieonians' previous home, Broomfield Park, was sold to supermarket chain Safeway, who were given permission to build a new store on the site. [55] This transaction has been cited as being the cause of the financial ruination of the club, as their old ground was demolished several years before they acquired planning permission for the new stadium. In the intervening years the club ground-shared Broadwood Stadium, in Cumbernauld, the home of Clyde.

The ground is owned by Broomfield Stadium Ltd, previously Excelsior Stadium Ltd, [56] who rent the stadium to Airdrie, [57] with the stadium owners sitting on the Board of the club. It has an all-seated capacity of 10,101 [1] and at the end of the 2009–10 season, a new 3G artificial surface was installed. [58]

In 2003 a ground share was proposed with Falkirk as their ground did not meet SPL requirements; [59] this was later refused as Falkirk could not prove the SPL fixtures would have priority. [60] Queen of the South played their Uefa Cup tie in 2008 [61] at the stadium, as did Motherwell in 2009. [62] Queen's Park utilised the stadium for their "home" games from December 2013 until May 2014, due to the redevelopment of Hampden Park for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. [63] [64]

Colours and crest

Colours

Airdrie United inherited Airdrieonians' distinctive playing colours of a white shirt with a red diamond. The design was the basis of Airdrieonians' nickname, The Diamonds, which has also been adopted by Airdrie.

Crest

Airdrieoniansnewlogo.png
Airdrieonianstransparent.png
The club badge of AFC, used for 26 years by the old club and three by the revival, was declared illegal in 2015.

When Airdrie United were formed, they used a blue double-headed eagle device on a white shield for their badge, with a red scroll below the shield that read "Airdrie United F.C.", amended to bearing "Airdrie F.C." when the club rebranded in 2012. [65] The eagle recalled the Airdrie town arms. [65]

When the club inherited the Airdrieonians name in 2013, they also restored the badge worn by their predecessors: [65] the original AFC bore this emblem from 1974 until their demise in 2002, excepting the 2000–01 season. [66] This badge featured a cockerel sitting atop a shield containing two lions passant and the club's initials. The club were informed by the Lord Lyon King of Arms in March 2015 that as their badge features a shield, it constitutes a heraldic device, and heraldic devices are not permitted to carry lettering. [67] On 19 June 2015, Airdrieonians unveiled a new crest, removing the shield and instead using a chevron–representing the "Airdrie Diamond"–to separate the scroll from the remainder of the badge. [68]

Current squad

As of 13 June 2021 [69]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No.Pos.NationPlayer
1 GK Flag of Scotland.svg  SCO Max Currie
4 DF Flag of Scotland.svg  SCO Josh Kerr
6 DF Flag of Scotland.svg  SCO Callum Fordyce (captain)
9 FW Flag of Scotland.svg  SCO Calum Gallagher (vice-captain)
11 MF Flag of France.svg  FRA Thomas Robert
13 MF Flag of Scotland.svg  SCO Dean Ritchie
19 DF Flag of Scotland.svg  SCO Scott Walker
25 FW Flag of Scotland.svg  SCO Patrick Pyott
GK Flag of Scotland.svg  SCO Jay Cantley
No.Pos.NationPlayer
DF Flag of Scotland.svg  SCO Rico Quitongo
DF Flag of Scotland.svg  SCO Sam Wardrop
DF Flag of Scotland.svg  SCO Craig Watson
MF Flag of Scotland.svg  SCO Scott Agnew
MF Flag of Scotland.svg  SCO Adam Frizzell
MF Flag of Scotland.svg  SCO Rhys McCabe
FW Flag of Scotland.svg  SCO Jordan Allan
FW Flag of Scotland.svg  SCO Dylan Easton

Club officials

Managers

Coaching staff

Boardroom

Club honours & records

Honours

Records

Record typeRecordAdditional information
Most league points in a season70in Second Division 2003–04 [81]
Most league goals by a player in season23, Andy Ryanin League One 2016-17
Record total league appearances159, Stephen McKeown
Record total league goals34, Stephen McKeown
Record home attendance9,044v Rangers on 23 August 2013 in Scottish League 1
Record win11–0v Gala Fairydean on 19 November 2011 in Scottish Cup 3rd Round [82]
Record league win7–0v Dundee on 11 March 2006 in Division One
Record loss0–7v Partick Thistle on 20 October 2012 in Division One [83]

Official club awards

Player of the Year

[84]

SeasonSenior Player of the YearYoung Player of the Year
2019–20 Callum Fordyce Leon McCann
2018–19 David Hutton Josh Edwards
2017–18 Scott StewartDean Cairns
2016–17 Andy Ryan Scott Stewart
2015–16 David Cox Nicky Cadden
2014–15 Paddy Boyle Luca Gasparotto
2013–14 Jim Lister Liam Watt
2012–13 John Boyle Chris O'Neil
2011–12 Ryan Donnelly Nathan Blockley
2010–11 Ryan McCord Jamie Bain
2009–10 No AwardNo Award
2008–09 Stephen Robertson Bobby Donnelly
2007–08 Allan Russell Kevin Watt
2006–07 Neil McGowan Stephen McKenna
2005–06 Bryan Prunty Steven McDougall
2004–05 Marvyn Wilson Stephen McKenna
2003–04 David Dunn Willie McLaren
2002–03 Jérôme Vareille Stephen McKeown

Hall of Fame

A Hall of Fame was established by the new club in 2002 to honour noted players of the previous entity (some of whom also played for the new club), with more entrants added each year. [85]

See also

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