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Caley Thistle Supporters’ Trust in fresh call for change after shock Kelty training decision

An open meeting in the city, hosted by the trust, has been brought forward to this Tuesday.

New Central Park, the home of Kelty Hearts FC.
From June, Caley Thistle will train at Kelty Hearts' New Central Park. Image: SNS

Caley Thistle Supporters’ Trust have issued a fresh call for change after the Inverness club announced their training base will be located in Fife.

The announcement on Friday lunchtime has been greeted with widespread anger and bemusement by ICT fans already coming to terms with last week’s play-off defeat to Hamilton and relegation to League One.

The club say shifting their training operations from Inverness to hire from Kelty Hearts – also a League One side – will help attract a better quality of player as they bid to make a swift return to the Championship.

High accommodation costs for players is another reason given for the shift 136 miles away to Fife. The club will continue to play at the Caledonian Stadium.

Last week, chairman Ross Morrison urged shell-shocked fans to unite as the board continued to have crunch talks, but confirmed Caley Jags would remain a full-time club, with many job fears allayed.

That was followed by Friday’s statement which revealed the club would train in Kelty next season.

The ICT Supporters’ Trust had already set up an open meeting for June 4 at the city’s Caley Thistle Social Club on Greig Street – this has been advanced to this Tuesday at 7pm in light of the latest developments.

Hamilton’s 5-3 aggregate win against ICT in the play-off final sent the Highland club into League One. Image: SNS

Club must ‘re-engage with local community, fans and businesses’

Following on from concerns raised hours of the relegation, the trust has spoken out in reaction to the training move decision.

Their statement said: “The bizarre decision to move ICTFC’s training base to Fife has proved that those at the top of the football club are completely and utterly disengaged with the fan-base.

“Only a few days ago, ICT chairman Ross Morrison stated, ‘now is the time to demonstrate unity,’ yet he has now overseen a decision that literally rips the soul of the club out of the community.

“Since our relegation a week ago, the supporters’ trust have heard from hundreds of fans and numerous ex-players who want to see the club re-engage with the local community, supporters, and businesses.

“The club’s answer to that is to move the whole footballing department’s training base 140 miles away.

“One justification the club has cited is the cost of housing players in Inverness.

“If the club had manged their finances better in recent seasons, then these costs would have been covered.

“The club has become so distracted on chasing big money solutions they have lost out on vital local income that could have been used to help the clubs finances and avoid having to take this dramatic step.”

Caley Thistle’s battery farm storage scheme, which stood to secure income of £3.4million, was rejected by Highland Council and now awaits a decision after an appeal to the Scottish Government. 

Inverness chairman Ross Morrison watches the club lose the play-off final against Hamilton. Image: SNS

‘The future of the club is at stake’

A fresh plea for a change of leadership within ICT has been made by the trust and they have urged shareholders to take action now.

Their statement added: “Our team will spend minimal time in Inverness, instead commuting from the central belt and back every second Saturday.

“They will be completely disconnected from Inverness and from the club’s support.

“The future of the club is at stake here. We therefore reiterate our demands for change that allows for fresh leadership of our football club with supporters at the centre of the club’s decision-making and we call on all major shareholders to get together and address this situation before it’s too late.”

Inverness manager Duncan Ferguson. Image: SNS

‘What next for our youth academy?’

The trust has raised concerns over the future of the youth academy, with claims that boss Duncan Ferguson doesn’t give local players enough game-time.

Its statement said: “The unanswered question is what next for our youth academy?

“ICT have a history of producing top quality youth players, with many in the current system capable of stepping up, but unfortunately, we have a manager who doesn’t play them and wants them to train 140 miles away from where they live.

“It seems that the manager will continue in his position, despite his failure, and he will continue to disregard the opportunity for local home-grown talent.”

Friday’s statement from Caley Thistle said on this subject: “For the avoidance of any doubt, we absolutely intend to continue to develop our own homegrown Highland boys and we will take the appropriate steps to make sure that by being creative, innovative and practical, they do not miss out on the chance to have a pathway to first-team football with their team.”

Ferguson, who is nine months into a three-year contract, is to remain in charge of ICT along with assistant Gary Bollan.

Caley Thistle have been approached for comment to the concerns raised by the Trust.