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Ross County fans at forefront of new year message from CEO Steven Ferguson

The Staggies chief reflects on a "rollercoaster" 2023 as he looks ahead with optimism under new manager Derek Adams.

Ross County chief executive Steven Ferguson. Image: DC Thomson/Sandy McCook
Ross County chief executive Steven Ferguson. Image: DC Thomson/Sandy McCook

Ross County chief executive Steven Ferguson kicked off 2024 with a heartfelt thanks to the Premiership club’s loyal supporters.

The Dingwall side’s fans travel across the country to back their team and have been rewarded with being in the upper-tier of Scottish football in all but one year since 2012.

Within his new year message, Ferguson expressed his pride at being at the helm of a club capable of delivering much, sometimes against the odds.

Coming less than a week since the treacherous weather saw their game at Rangers postponed and the team and fans having to turn back on the A9, he said: “It’s been said before, but I will say it again football without supporters just isn’t football.

“I understand that sometimes it’s a tough gig supporting Ross County Football Club, the central belt bias, the early starts, the late nights and the dreaded A9 would be enough to put many other supporters off but not the Staggies Army.

“You continually support your/our club home and away, through the good the bad and the ugly, but for every single one of us involved at Ross County Football Club it is this support we appreciate the most and I can’t thank you enough for doing so.

‘Optimism and a sense of purpose’

“I will be the first to say that I/we don’t always get everything right, but I can say honestly, it’s not for the want of trying!

“As we embark on the new year, I am filled with optimism and a sense of purpose. Our collective goal of success, both on and off the pitch, remains at the forefront of our endeavours.

“To provide a club that our supporters, their families, and friends can take great pride in.”

Ferguson on the change of manager

Former midfielder and co-manager Ferguson also paid credit to Malky Mackay, the club’s manager for two-and-a-half years, who was sacked in November after a poor start to this season.

In 2021/22, Mackay guided the team into the top-six of the Premiership, while last term, he ensured the Staggies remained in the top-flight by winning an incredible play-off final against Partick Thistle.

Last month saw the return to the hot-seat for a third time of another ex-player, Derek Adams, who took the club in the SPL and a Scottish Cup final during previous spells.

Ferguson said: “The role of a manager in professional football is undoubtedly a challenging one, and the impact of changing managers cannot be understated.

“The contributions made by Malky Mackay during his time with Ross County FC will be best remembered for the success of a top-six finish and a memorable play-off victory.

From left: Ross County chief executive Steven Ferguson, manager Derek Adams, and chairman Roy MacGregor. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Chief says club ‘overcomes obstacles’

“As we welcome Derek Adams to lead our football department into 2024, I have the utmost confidence in his capability to guide our football department with his unwavering determination and familiarity with our club’s ethos and challenges.

“As the year 2023 ends, I am overcome with a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the unwavering support and dedication shown by everyone involved with Ross County Football Club.

“The challenges of competing in the Scottish Premiership are ever-present, and it is through the collective efforts of our community that we have been able to overcome these obstacles time and time again.”

Ferguson also spoke of the personnel changes behind the scenes over the past 12 months, which he described as “undoubtedly a roller coaster ride for us all”.

From left: Gordon Duff (head of youth and academy operations), Gary Warren (academy manager), Carl Tremarco (head of professional academy and loans manager). Image: Ross County FC.

Academy and foundation praised

He described the reshuffle of the club’s academy, which is now headed up by Gary Warren, supported by head of professional academy and newly-formed loans manager Carl Tremarco and Gordon Duff, who leads academy operations and youth programmes.

Ferguson added: “A couple of successes I want to highlight are Dylan Smith who has played consistently with the first-team throughout 2023, while also representing Scotland and captaining the national-19s team and Jamie Williamson, who made his professional debut in our dramatic play-off shoot-out win.

“Our foundation has had another great year and continues to grow through the drive and enthusiasm of our team; Ryan Farquhar, Ryan Moreton, Nathan Gatt and Chris Draffin, who have overseen successful operations of training camps, courses, schools and outreach programmes across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

“I’m predicting an even better, more exciting 2024 for the Ross County Foundation.”

The Staggies’ CEO listed many “unsung heroes” as well as concluding with thanks to “our board, directors; James Macdonald and Jia Mackenzie and our chairman, Roy MacGregor who without their consistent support, investment, encouragement, and passion throughout 2023 the club would simply not be able to do what we do.”