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Caley Thistle ask parents for £10-a-week financial support to keep youth academy afloat

Caledonian Stadium.
Caledonian Stadium.

Caley Thistle have contacted parents of youth players for financial support in an attempt to prevent the club’s youth academy being vastly scaled down.

Inverness chairman Ross Morrison wrote to parents on March 2 before football was shut down by the coronavirus crisis to ask for a suggested donation of £10 per week to help cover the costs of running the academy.

After parents of only 38 of the club’s 140 youth players took part in the scheme, Morrison again wrote to parents earlier this month outlining that it will be “impossible” to run the club’s seven youth teams, between the ages of 12 and 18, without further support.

Caley Thistle chairman Ross Morrison.

Caley Jags are planning to hold a series of socially-distanced briefings to parents at Caledonian Stadium next week to outline the threat of the academy being scrapped unless financial assistance can be found.

The suggested £10 weekly payment from parents would go some way towards covering what the club estimates is a cost of £1,200 for each player per season.

Caley Jags chief executive Scot Gardiner has previously outlined the financial challenge in meeting the 63 criteria required for Inverness to qualify for the second “progressive” tier of the Scottish FA’s Project Brave programme.

Should Inverness fail to find enough donations from supporters, Gardiner insists the club would be forced to withdraw from Project Brave, reducing the academy in size by at least 50%.

Gardiner said: “We are trying to meet criteria all the time and the costs are astronomical.

“In the Championship it is impossible to do that without some sort of assistance, either in sponsorship or parents’ support.

“If we can’t get ourselves into a position where donations make up a larger contribution, we can’t afford it – it’s as simple as that.

“It would be around half the size it is now. We wouldn’t have seven teams, we would have three or four maximum.

“We would probably do joint age groups. We know there are other clubs in the same tier as us having the same issues.”

Caley Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner.

With Morrison and Gardiner looking to safeguard the club’s future, Caley Jags will be hoping their plea will be met with the desired response in order to ensure the continued survival of its youth academy.

Among the players to have come through Caley Thistle’s youth ranks in recent seasons are Scotland internationals Ryan Christie and Graeme Shinnie, along with Liam Polworth, Nick Ross and Shane Sutherland.

Gardiner says any decision to scale back the youth operation would be a reluctant one, adding: “We are not saying we are going to cancel it and put all our money in the first team, which might be the pragmatic and brutally sensible thing to do.

“Ross and I believe we have an obligation to have a youth department, as a club in the capital city of the Highlands.”

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