I fear Caley Thistle will be inflicting long-term self-harm if they cannot find the money to keep their youth academy going at full strength.
As a former youth team coach at the club I cannot stress enough how important I believe a youth system is.
That is why it saddens me to see the youth academy in danger of being scaled back due to a lack of finance.
The club wrote to parents in March appealing for them to contribute £10 per week per player per season. There are 140 players on the books, but little more than a quarter of the parents have been able to contribute.
The club says unless the numbers increase substantially they won’t be able to sustain the academy in its present form and parents have been left in no doubt the financial responsibility now lies with them.
I have sympathy for the club, but even more for the parents. They find themselves in a terrible predicament at a time when the coronavirus has created so much uncertainty about jobs for so many people.
The timing of being asked to contribute on a weekly basis for a child to play football could not be worse and there will be families who are fortunate to have more than one child playing for one of the youth teams. The monthly payments could be doubled, if not tripled in some cases.
It’s a dire predicament for Inverness chairman Ross Morrison, too, but I would implore the board at Caledonian Stadium to divert all their energy into trying to maintain the setup as the last thing the club can afford is to see the pathway for their promising youngsters disappear.
You just need to look at a player like Ryan Christie to see why it is so important.
Ryan dedicated himself and earned a move to Celtic and, while his undoubted ability earned him his move, he was given encouragement by coaches at Inverness on his journey up through the ranks.
Losing out on that potential, which in Ryan’s case amounted to £500,000 when he moved to the Hoops, would be dire for Caley Jags.
That is why I would much rather see the club withdraw from the national youth leagues and play friendlies with local clubs if it meant the academy set-up was protected.
At the risk of sounding pessimistic, only one team is going to win the Championship next season and it is not Caley Thistle.
The club may be trying to give John Robertson as much support as they can for the forthcoming campaign by trying to find savings elsewhere, but I do not believe any money saved on the academy will make much difference to the destination of the title.
Investing in youth now can pay a rich dividend down the road for Caley Jags.
Tremarco is a great signing for Ross County – and it’s still a mystery why Caley Thistle let their skipper go
Carl Tremarco signing for Ross County has not shocked me one bit. The decision by Caley Thistle to let their captain leave, however, remains a mystery to me.
He is a model professional, a popular figure among the dressing room and an excellent defender to boot.
I know he was loved by the Caley Jags supporters and his team-mates, which is why the announcement he was leaving the club did come as a huge surprise, but Caley Thistle’s loss will undoubtedly be Ross County’s gain.
Carl will be 35 in October, but – make no mistake – he will be absolutely fine at the Staggies and, if John Terry can comfortably play in the English Premier League at 35 as he did with Chelsea, then I’ve no concerns about Carl cutting it in the Scottish Premiership.
In fact, give it to January and look for an announcement from the Staggies that Carl has extended his deal by another 12 months. That is how confident I am about his prospects of succeeding on his return to the top flight of Scottish football.
Regular readers of this column will know I was not convinced by County’s full-backs last season, but Stuart Kettlewell has been busy in addressing that.
It will be a new-look Staggies back four which takes to the field next month and an experienced campaigner like Carl can play a big role.