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‘Anger, disbelief and a sense of betrayal’ - Inverness Caley Thistle fans ready to plot strategy after board’s shock move to Kelty training base in Fife


By Alasdair Fraser

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Caley Thistle's supporters' trust will meet at the Caley Social Club on Greig Street tomorrow (Tuesday, May 28) at 7pm
Caley Thistle's supporters' trust will meet at the Caley Social Club on Greig Street tomorrow (Tuesday, May 28) at 7pm

Angry Caley Thistle fans will tomorrow night (Tuesday) pack out an emergency meeting to discuss a protest strategy to reverse the club’s decision to relocate first team training to Fife.

It is understood a potentially damaging season ticket boycott will be one possible tactic discussed.

With shock and fury evident among fans, the ICT Supporters’ Trust will host up to three times its usual turn-out for meetings at the Caley Social Club on Greig Street.

The Caley Thistle board provoked an extraordinary backlash from supporters on Friday after announcing they planned to adopt Kelty Hearts’ New Central Park ground in Fife as a first team base from this summer.

The plan has also been widely condemned and ridiculed by past players and national media outlets. Local politicians including Drew Hendry MP and Emma Roddick MSP have also called for a rethink, the latter seeking support and advice from the Scottish Government.

Accused of betraying their community roots, the club has claimed that significant sums could be saved by the move following relegation from the Championship to League One.

Caley Social Club on Greig Street.
Caley Social Club on Greig Street.

They hope to subsidise the first team squad by removing the need to pay for rehousing of central belt-based signings in the Highlands.

But the specially convened Trust meeting will hear heated demands for a U-turn by the under-fire board.

“Anger, disbelief and a sense of betrayal,” was how Trust spokesman George Moodie summed up the mood among furious supporters contacting him.

Mr Moodie said: “I genuinely feel that way myself.

“Disbelief that the leadership of this club could do what they have done to our club. They are ripping the heart and soul of the club away from our community.

Caley Thistle in happier times - winning the 2015 Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic, with David Raven leading celebrations after scoring the winning goal.
Caley Thistle in happier times - winning the 2015 Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic, with David Raven leading celebrations after scoring the winning goal.

“It’s an insult to Inverness and the Highlands that we are told we need to do this.”

The Trust has resisted the temptation to move the emergency meeting to a larger venue given huge interest in the event and an incredible recent surge in their own membership.

Contrary to speculation, the meeting will not be livestreamed on social media.

Numbers pledging themselves to Trust membership have soared by 90 per cent in less than two weeks and by 173 per cent in the three months since February’s fans’ meeting.

Mr Moodie said: “Pledges to attend the meeting have risen to up to 150. That’s pushing double to treble what we would normally have.

“You get a sense of the incredible strength of feeling against what the board is doing.

“The rise in membership has been absolutely fantastic. We have surpassed all expectations and it is growing daily.

“We’re very grateful to the supporters and we would encourage those who haven’t yet joined to please do so - friends, family, kids, mum and dad.

“The more members we have, the more it increases the fans’ voice.

George Moodie of the ICT Supporters' Trust
George Moodie of the ICT Supporters' Trust
ICT chairman Ross Morrison and chief executive Scot Gardiner. Picture: Callum Mackay
ICT chairman Ross Morrison and chief executive Scot Gardiner. Picture: Callum Mackay

“It highlights the appreciation and love there is for our football club and adds strength to our aspirations to facilitate change at the club.”

Other items on the agenda will include an update on moves by the Trust to gain a seat for supporters on the Caley Thistle board.

Mr Moodie continued: “We will update the fans on our recent communications with the club, so they are fully up to speed with where the Trust is.

“We’ve always listened to and always acted upon the advice and desires of the support, being that conduit for conversations with the club.

“We will take forward suggestions, but we will also share what we believe should be the next steps.”

Reacting to the Caley Thistle announcement of the Kelty deal on Friday, late that night the Trust issued a powerfully-worded condemnation of the training ground plan.

The Caledonian Stadium. Picture: James Mackenzie
The Caledonian Stadium. Picture: James Mackenzie

Calling for a “change of leadership”, but avoiding a call for the board to resign, ICT Supporters’ Trust described the decision to relocate first team training to Kelty Hearts’ ground “bizarre” and said the team would now be “completely disconnected” from the local community.

The statement said: “(This) rips the soul of the club out of the community.

“Hundreds of fans and numerous ex-players 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.”

The supporters’ trust also wants answers on the future of the club’s youth academy, which is remaining in Inverness, and how young local players will be able to retain a pathway to the first team.

The Courier understands a senior coach will remain mainly Inverness-based to act as a bridge between the academy and the first team.

The Trust statement added: “We 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.”

Announcing the plan as part of a “radical restructuring”, a Caley Thistle statement read: “The last few years have seen the geographic challenges in getting players to move to the Highlands become ever harder for a number of reasons

“Caledonian Stadium will always be our home, but other factors in Scottish football have changed.

“Where we train should not be an impediment to the quality of the players we can attract to Caley Thistle, or to our potential to progress.”

The club blamed “the commercial success of the city of Inverness” for high property prices, with limited housing stock “a huge factor working against us”.

But it added: “For the avoidance of any doubt, we absolutely intend to continue to develop our own homegrown Highland boys.”


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