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Exclusive: Mark Ridgers – I’ve waited long enough for Caley Thistle contract offer

The now-out-of-contract keeper says Inverness chiefs haven't been in touch with him, and the players were in the dark over the doomed plan to move training to Fife.

Caley Thistle's Mark Ridgers
Goalkeeper Mark Ridgers. Image: SNS

Goalkeeper Mark Ridgers says he has been left in limbo by Caley Thistle over his future for months – and still hasn’t heard from the club despite his contract expiring on Sunday.

The 33-year-old – whose 91 clean sheets in 280 games since joining ICT in 2017 is a club record – is now out of contract following the Highlanders plunging into League One.

Away from the pitch, the financially-embattled Caley Jags are set to advance talks with an insolvency practitioner if they cannot secure fresh investment in the next 48 hours.

Fans’ favourite Ridgers told The Press and Journal he feels he has played the waiting game long enough, but would still be willing to sign an 11th-hour deal to continue his stay with his hometown club.

‘I have waited since February for an offer, but I have to look after myself and consider my options’

He said: “My contract expired on Sunday. I politely told teams I would wait and see what Inverness had to say to me.

“Since the turn of the year, I was approached by the manager, who wanted me to stay. I was to be offered a contract around February, but didn’t receive anything.

“Listen, I completely understood the situation the club was in – not knowing what league we’d be in next season.

The Caledonian Stadium, Inverness. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson..

“However, no one approached me and some other players to just say: ‘We want to keep you, but don’t know yet what we can offer you’.  You would then at least know where you stood.

“The situation has dragged on and I now don’t have a club. No one from Caley Thistle has contacted me.

“I have to make a decision based on what’s best for my family. If that means moving away, I will, but I am at a crossroads.

“I have not shut the door on staying. I have sympathy for what is happening, but that’s not down to relegation – although that did worsen the situation.

“Players come and go at clubs, but we now have staff members also in limbo. They don’t know what’s going on.

“For me, I have waited long enough. I have waited since February for an offer, but I have to look after myself and consider my options.”

Inverness manager Duncan Ferguson told Mark Ridgers he wanted him to stay earlier this year – but there’s no deal on the table for the now out-of-contract keeper. Image: SNS.

Being left in dark over ‘mind-blowing’ training plan ‘hurt’ the most – Ridgers

New Central Park, the home of Kelty Hearts FC.
Caley Thistle had planned to train at Kelty Hearts’ New Central Park. Image: SNS.

Ridgers also took a swipe at Inverness chiefs over the now-abandoned scheme to move training operations to Fife in a deal with Kelty Hearts, which was the plan even if the club had survived the drop out of the Championship.

Fan power won out as ICT confirmed they would continue to train at Fort George, rather than move 136 miles to share facilities with their League One rivals in a bid to attract a higher quality player and beat high accommodation costs in the Highland capital.

Ridgers added: “As an ex-player now, it’s been mind-blowing. Like the fans and media, we also didn’t have a clue what was going on – including the proposed training move to Kelty.

“As a senior player, who has been at the club for a long time, that hurt the most. The club were going to do this without even speaking to us.

“By their statement, they were going to do it even had we stayed in the Championship.

“This was all going on behind the scenes while we’re at the football club, trying our best to keep the club in the league. I can only speak for myself here, but that was really disappointing.

“I understand fans’ frustration. It is their club and they have got what they wanted (in terms of the Kelty move being binned).

“But the club’s a long way away from being out of danger. It is worrying times all round.”

Ridgers open to coaching combined with playing

Whatever lies ahead for Ridgers, he wants to continue to combine playing with adding to his coaching experience

He said: “I want to progress with my coaching. I am 33 and still feel good enough to play at the level above (the Championship).

“If I do go to another club, I will be fighting to play, but I also want to progress the coaching – something I started at Caley Thistle.

“I was taking the academy players and have done my badges to the point where the B licence is the next one.

“If I move, it would need to be with a club willing to help me through that.

“I want to play, but would be willing to go in and push the current number one as long as in the background I am also working on life after playing (as in coaching).

“But I am only 33, and still have at least another five years at a decent level. I look after myself well.

“The last couple of games for Inverness were not great for me, but I have consistently performed in the Championship and maintained high standards. For any keeper, that is key.

Experienced Inverness goalkeeping and under-18s coach Ryan Esson and young shot-stopper Corey Patterson are also out of contract, and last week Cammy Mackay left ICT to join Highland League side Brora Rangers.

Caley Thistle have been contacted for comment.