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Ross County chief Steven Ferguson expects strongest top-flight in a decade next season

Ross County chief executive Steven Ferguson.
Ross County chief executive Steven Ferguson.

Chief executive Steven Ferguson reckons Ross County are going to be competing in the strongest Premiership for a decade next term.

The Staggies secured their top-flight berth thanks to a gutsy 2-1 comeback win at Motherwell on Sunday. 

Talks are ongoing with manager John Hughes this week, with an announcement expected imminently over his future after he guided the club to three wins on the spin to stay up automatically.

Ferguson moved from co-management with Stuart Kettlewell into the CEO chair last summer.

Hughes replaced Kettlewell in December and succeeded in keeping the club up and County will mix it in a league which includes Rangers, Celtic, Hibs, Aberdeen, Hearts and Dundee United.

Inconsistent form dogged County throughout the season and it was only in those last three matches that they delivered successive winning results.

Ross County’s Steven Ferguson, who was previously co-manager at the Dingwall club.

Ferguson admits: “We feel we did underachieve for large parts of last season. However, we always knew we were capable of better if we could get all our ducks in a line.

“You could see from the last three games of the season, and the way we played, that it was fitting that we stayed up with those wins.

“Staying up was massive for this area and for the Highlands.”

Nine years out of 10 in the Premiership – but big challenge ahead

Ferguson believes that ensuring the Dingwall club go into another season at Scottish football’s top table was top of the agenda in the closing weeks of a trying campaign.

He stressed: “All our focus was on staying in the Premiership.

“After that, we needed this seven-to-10-day period before we can announce the direction of travel for the club. We are right in the middle of that.

John Hughes, the Ross County manager, who helped keep the club in the Premiership.

“The club needs a direction now that we know we’re staying in the Premiership. That is brilliant for the area.”

“We’ve been at that level for nine out of the last 10 years and this is probably the strongest Premiership in 10 years.”

Staying up is ’10 times harder’ than coming up

Ferguson, alongside his former team-mate Kettlewell, guided County back to the top-flight in 2019.

Stuart Kettlewell, who was co-manager of Ross County, with Steven Ferguson.

The former midfielder feels that, as difficult as that was, keeping the club at this level provides the ultimate challenge for a club like County.

He added: “Caley Thistle have been in the Championship for a number of years now. I was co-manager when we won the Championship and I know how difficult it is to get out of that division.

“The Championship is difficult, but trying to stay in the Premiership is 10 times harder than that. We accept that for us to achieve that we have to defy the odds.

“We need to continually punch above our weight.”

Changes afoot this summer

Only a handful of first-team players are contracted beyond the end of the month.
Ferguson confirmed that the door will be an active one at Victoria Park.

He said: “It will be another big summer. We have to make sure that everything is done properly.

“We are grateful that, after coming up from the Championship two seasons ago, we have maintained our place in the Premiership.

“Naturally, there will always be changes within the football club at the end of the season, but we give the guys great credit for keeping the club in the Premiership.

“We will learn from everything we have experienced over the last two years, so that we can further improve for next season.”

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