Inverness Caley Thistle Women will welcome around 145 new players to its ranks as Thistle Girls FC has become part of the club.
Caley Jags CEO Scot Gardiner initiated the move after reports suggested that Thistle Girls, which was founded in 2017, was about to become a ‘dormant’ club.
In a bid to save the girls’ club, Gardiner held discussions with ICT and Thistle Colts representatives, as well as Ruth McGeough from SWF.
Those talks helped navigate the best possible way for the youth club to become part of Caley Thistle.
With the move now complete, it ensures that there will continue be a full player-pathway for girls and women in the Highlands.
Gardiner said: “Recent reports had suggested that due to circumstances beyond the control of the girls, Thistle Girls FC was about to become dormant and a thriving club which started in 2017 with only 9 girls was about to disappear.
“We could not countenance this blow to the girls and the Inverness footballing community and acted very quickly to try and resolve the situation.
“From an ICT position, I am proud that we are able to help the club in what was a very difficult situation and I am looking forward to seeing how we can continue to grow women and girls football in Inverness and the Highlands.”
Gardiner will now meet with players parents as he sets out their future as part of Inverness Caley Thistle.
The Caley Jags senior women’s squad currently play in SWF Championship North, the third tier of women’s football in Scotland.
Their head coach Karen Mason believes the move will help progress women’s football in the local area.
She added: “I think this is potentially a game changer for women and girls football in Inverness and the Highlands and to be able to step in and help the club, therefore creating a pathway for girls from primary school age through to senior women’s football gives us a lift as well.”
While Kenny Grant, Thistle Colts secretary, thanked Caley Thistle for their swift actions which helped save the girls club: “For an agreement to be reached so quickly and with a footballing partner we already had a pathway in place with was unthinkable as recently as last week.
“I would like to thank everyone who has developed this side of our club immensely from inception and wish them all the best for the future.
I cannot thank ICTFC enough for their assistance and the accommodating nature everyone at the club have shown to me during these negotiations at a very fraught time for Thistle FC.”