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Caley Thistle target boardroom signings as losses are further trimmed

Caley Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner.
Caley Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner.

Caley Thistle have reduced their year-on-year losses – as the Championship club now aims to attract two new directors.

The Inverness side narrowly missed out of promotion to the Premiership last month, meaning it is getting set for a sixth successive year in Scottish football’s second-tier.

The Covid-19 pandemic and its effects on income are noted in the club’s financial statement for year ending May 31.

Last year, the losses were £263,000 and the latest loss before tax sits at £235,282, which is a significant drop overall from losses of £892,000 at the end of the previous 2018-19 season.

Inverness chief executive Scot Gardiner is confident the Caley Jags can make further strides on and off the pitch, with the new deal for captain Sean Welsh another shot in the arm.

Gardiner, who arrived at the Caledonian Stadium in 2019, reckons the time is ideal for business people to add their expertise to the boardroom.

Bright future predicted by ICT chief

With a firmer financial grounding looming thanks to a deal with the main club sponsors Intelligent Land Investments Group (ILI), the chief is confident about the future.

He said: “We want to now bring more directors on board, at least two, which is really exciting.

“We want to bring in more business acumen to take us to another level on the business front. It’s really important.

Intelligent Land Investments Group are the ICT shirt sponsors, as seen here with Caley Jags’ captain Sean Welsh, right, in action against Arbroath.

“Before, I think people would have shied away from the football club, thinking it’s a black hole.

“A club which not too long ago was losing just under £1 million a year. People would not want to go on that board, because you become responsible for that.

“However, we’re moving in the right direction and have made a positive impact in the area.

“We’re a real community club. We get much more encouragement from business people and we’re looking to attract two more board members.

“We’re moving in the right direction, while still remaining competitive.

“The sponsorship of Intelligent Land Investments is huge for us. Phase one of that (deal) should come to fruition this coming season, which will give us a financial platform we’ve never had. Phase two will go further than that.

“These are contracted, financial happenings. They are not in the ether. I wish I could fast-forward it, as promotion to the Premiership would have done.

“We have to ensure we remain competitive until we bridge the gap, until the ILI deal, phase one, goes through. That should happen in the coming months.”

Fans’ support important to ICT

Season tickets went on sale this week as Caley Thistle, seen as one of the main contenders for next year’s Championship title, aim to go for glory under head coach Billy Dodds.

Gardiner stressed the importance of income from fans without the presence of one sole figure pumping in money to the Highlanders’ bank account.

He said: “The Championship is an enormous challenge. The season prior to me joining the club, we were losing the best part of £1million.

“We had an EGM before the AGM and we said ‘we’re bleeding here and it’s unsustainable’. We don’t have an owner.

Scot Gardiner.

“The easiest way to run a football club is to have a benevolent dictator. In my football career, that might have been David Murray, Alan Sugar, Daniel Levy or Ann Budge. You need one person, and the wealthier the better.

“We don’t have that, which adds another level of difficulty in terms of trying to make ends meet.

“Our band of supporters are small, but loyal. Our season ticket numbers last season were up almost 20% on the previous season, which was terrific. We kept prices as competitive as we could.”

City hub would be ‘game-changer’

Another reason why sharp business people might want to join Inverness is the plans for a new football base beside the city’s royal academy.

The massive £2m project will offer Scotland’s first dedicated home ground for women’s football as ICT Women will play there as well as being the base for Caley Thistle’s charitable community trust.

The club is seeking a 50 to 99-year lease of disused land next to the school from Highland Council, which will lead to investment from other areas.

Gardiner is confident the move will lead to a shift in the stature of Caley Thistle, broadening its impact well away from the stadium in the Longman.

He added: “The community hub at Inverness Royal Academy is a huge game-changer. John Robertson (ICT’s sporting director) has been working exclusively on that.

“It changes our presence in the town and our ability to do so much. It is not within our gift at this moment, but all our discussions with Highland Council and the blanket cross-party support from MPs and MSPs has been great.

Inverness sporting director John Robertson, who is behind the community hub project.

“We just need to get it over the line and we hope by the end of the summer we will be signing a lease for decades.”

The latest financial statements for the club confirm net asset position of just under £1.3m, with net debts of £961,190.

The statement notes: “Restrictions created by the Covid-19 restrictions in the year have affected revenues and the company has utilised certain government financial support mechanisms during the year to provide liquidity to the business.

“The directors have taken the required actions to secure the long-term financial stability of the company and continue to monitor its financial position.”

Concerts will boost club’s income

It also highlighted forecasted income boosted by income from “new income streams”, particularly from contracted entertainment events and commercial parking income.

World-class tenor Andrea Bocelli takes to the stage at the Caledonian Stadium on July 1, with Duran Duran playing there the following night.