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Recruitment, stadium enhancements and the club’s youth structure – Chairman Keith Moorhouse on the decisions facing Cove Rangers following their Championship promotion

Cove Rangers chairman Keith Moorhouse. Pictures by Scott Baxter
Cove Rangers chairman Keith Moorhouse

Cove Rangers chairman Keith Moorhouse insists work is well under way as the club prepares to make the biggest step in its history.

Items on the agenda include player recruitment, stadium improvements and youth development as Cove plot what the future looks like for them at the next level.

Moorhouse is balancing realism and ambition, with another five-year plan in the pipeline after they reached the end goal of their first one ahead of schedule.

Strengthening the squad will inevitably be a priority and probably the most eye-catching of tasks to outsiders.

But there are infrastructure aspects Moorhouse is also keen to bolster ahead of their debut season in the Championship.

Cove moved into their Balmoral Stadium home in 2018 and it has become a formidable place for any visiting side to play. However, with greater travelling support expected in the Championship, expansion will be necessary.

Balmoral Stadium, home of Cove Rangers

“We’re working on that already, to make sure the stadium is capable of handling bigger crowds,” said Moorhouse. “We fully expect the away support to be of bigger numbers than this season and there’s a lot of big clubs in the Championships we’ll come up against.

“There’ll be additional facilities put in, that’s for sure. There are other things we can do to get the facilities improved between now and the start of next season, which don’t include extending the stand.

“The costs, in relation to extending the main stand right now, are prohibitive. From a financial stand-point it’s just not sensible to spend the level of money it needs, because we expect the costs to come down in the future.

“But we’re working on a number of options. We’re at a different level and the facilities need to come up a level. It needs to be in place before we start the first game of the Premier Sports Cup.”

Cove made notable signings last year in Shay Logan and Iain Vigurs and then Mark Reynolds in January, which ultimately helped them to take the next step to promotion.

While talk of going hybrid or full-time is not a pressing issue at this time, squad improvement is.

“Whether we’re part-time, hybrid, full-time, is really irrelevant, as Arbroath have proved this season,” said Moorhouse. “The most important thing right now is getting our recruitment right.

“The manager knows what he wants, based on what the Championship is like. Anyone in football will know the style of football and standard in the Championship is a big step from League One. In my opinion, it’s a bigger step than League Two to League One.

Cove Rangers players celebrate with the League One title
Cove Rangers players celebrate with the League One title

“We’ll need to do a bit of work on the squad and the manager has already started work on that. Time will tell what that looks like; you speak to a lot of guys, some come off and some don’t.

“We’ll make it known when we’ve done deals and not before.”

Cove will refocus efforts on improving the youth side of the club. It is an issue “on the agenda” for Moorhouse, however it is not something they are going to do in a haphazard manner.

Harry Milne, who will leave for Partick Thistle this summer, and Connor Scully both started with Cove as youngsters and graduated to first-team regulars.

“We’ve already started discussions on what we do with the youth academy,” added Moorhouse. “It’s on the agenda and we’ve started conversations on it.

“There’s a lot of things we believe we can generate through the youth academy, which we believe will accelerate the hybrid/full-time model, as one feeds the other.

Cove Rangers midfielder Connor Scully celebrates their title win
Cove Rangers midfielder Connor Scully, who came through the ranks with the club, celebrates their title win

“We need to do it right. I would rather take our time and do it right than do it quick. There’s obviously a time-lag with these things and you’ve got to put the resources in at the front-end to get results three, four or five years down the track.

“We’ve always been mindful that we need to retain our identity and continue our links with the community.

“We’ve managed to do that and managed to the Championship. But the higher you go, the harder that is to retain. We just need to take our time and do it right.”

Cove’s three years in the SPFL to-date have been dominated by success. They have won two league titles and in the other season, reached the promotion play-offs.

Moving up to the Championship will require a recalibration of their expectations, as it would be naïve in the utmost to expect their run of promotions to continue unabated.

“We need to draw breath in terms of the journey we’ve been on so far and reset the button on what is realistic, what success now looks like,” said Moorhouse.

“Up to now, we’ve been on a journey where success has meant either a league title or promotion. That cannot be next season’s success criteria.

“It’s about being realistic and setting a target that’s achievable. It’s about consolidation and making sure we remain a Championship club in a year’s time.”

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