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Richie Hart shocked by Caley Thistle’s decision to move training base to Kelty Hearts

The former ICT midfielder cannot see how moving the club's training hub to Fife can get disgruntled fans on side.

Former Inverness Caledonian Thistle midfielder Richie Hart.
Former Caley Jags star Richie Hart. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Former Caley Thistle midfielder Richie Hart described the club’s decision to shift their training base to Kelty in Fife as “unbelievable”.

Hart, who also played for Ross County, Dundee and Maltese side Hibernians, made 115 appearances for Inverness from 2002 to 2008, helping them win promotion to the top flight 20 years ago this month.

And he was close to speechless when he heard Friday’s announcement that the club – just relegated from the Championship – have struck a deal with fellow League One side Kelty Hearts to be based in Fife in a bid to recruit a better quality of player.

The statement, which highlights the high costs of being based in Inverness, said the club will continue to play at the Caledonian Stadium, but their daily training operations will be 136 miles away.

‘It’s difficult to find any justification’

The club will continue to be managed by Duncan Ferguson and assistant Gary Bollan, despite some fans calling for change after last week’s play-off final defeat to Hamilton Accies.

Hart said: “The club needed to re-engage with the fans – and they go and do something like this. How is that ever going to work? It’s unbelievable.

“It’s difficult to find any justification for that. This was the chance to pave a better future for the club. This has come way out of left-field.

“How is this going to get local fans on side? If ever there was a move which was completely going to disengage the fans further, it’s this.”

Richie Hart, left, in action against Aberdeen’s Scott Severin in the SPL in 2004. Image: SNS

Fresh blow for ICT’s youth academy

Hart, whose early career kicked off at Ross County and Brora Rangers, believes the decision is a setback for younger footballers from the local area.

He said: “I know when it comes to academies, for clubs up here it can be dictated to in terms of where clubs find themselves, such as Ross County being second-bottom of the Premiership.

“Instead of playing more local players, their hands are forced as they try to stay in the league. They don’t want to risk the young ones.

“Ross County, for example, over the last two years have more or less released all their under-18 players. What is the purpose of these academies?

“You needn’t tell me there isn’t enough talent in the Highlands from a young age. If you, as a club, cannot produce five or six players who you’ve brought through to get into a first-team squad then there’s something wrong.

“There is a lot of talent here and that’s been proven over the years. There are now a lot of loan players from England making the first-team. The academies look like a tick-box exercise now.

“The Highlands produces talented players, but for whatever reason, they don’t seem to be brought through in the right way. That’s a real worry.

“With Caley Thistle now moving training to Kelty, it’s ridiculous. It really is alarming.”

The Press and Journal asked to speak to someone from Caley Thistle about the decision to move the training base but the club said no one would be available for interview.

On Friday night, fans launched a petition which will be presented to the club in opposition to the move to Kelty, through a Facebook page called TogetherforICT.

Their profile page says it is created for “fans banding together to call for Inverness Caledonian Thistle to remain a key part of the community. Welcoming ICT fans and all that care in Inverness.”

Richie Hart, right, in action for Caley Thistle against Aberdeen in 2006.

ICT Supporters’ Trust meeting is set

The ICT Supporters’ Trust set up an open meeting for Tuesday, May 28 at 7pm at the Caley Thistle Social Club, Greig Street, Inverness. It had been set for June 4 prior to the training move news.

The trust called for changes at the top just hours after relegation was confirmed and the meeting will bring members and prospective members up to speed about the recently-launched ICT Stronger Together fund.

The initiative not only aims for fans to invest further in their football club, but would ultimately lead to having a larger shareholding stake and a place on the board.

Currently, the trust hold 108 ordinary shares, which carry an enhanced voting right, carrying a minimum of 10%.  It also holds 13,658 ordinary shares which carry normal voting rights.

On its website, promoting the meeting, it says: “It is vital we ensure the voices of supporters are not only heard in the stands, but also when it comes to having a say on key issues relating to the club.”

For more details, see