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Inverness Caley Thistle want a 'battalion of knights' to help save Championship club's finances after revealing projected £872k loss to shareholders

By Alasdair Fraser

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Scot Gardiner.
Scot Gardiner.

CALEY Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner has warned there is “no knight in shining armour” poised to step in and rescue club finances.

But Gardiner and new chairman Ross Morrison said they were “cautiously optimistic” of finding new investment to steady the ship after this evening’s EGM laid bare the financial peril to shareholders.

Projected annual losses of £872,000 up to the end of May this year were announced at the meeting – up £62,000 on last year’s already declared deficit.

Only large gifts from wealthy shareholders have kept the Highland club afloat and debt-free.

Rather than one major new investor coming in, the two club chiefs indicated several existing shareholders had expressed a willingness to help.

They hope to progress talks with those individuals in the next few days.

Well over 100 club backers turned out at Caledonian Stadium for the meeting, one of the biggest in recent memory.

Gardiner said: “It was very positive. It was a full and frank discussion.

“The chairman and myself have been speaking to a number of individuals. We have not been speaking to one person, there is no knight in shining armour that’s coming over the hill.

“We have been speaking to a number of individuals because our intention is to put together a board of directors, of merit and people with business respect and reach in the city.

“There wasn’t one new owner coming in. Ross is the chairman, and we are working on bringing additional people to the board.

“Tonight was never going to be unveiling a new signing who is going to take away all our cashflow problems.”

Mr Morrison said: “We are looking for knights in battalion strength – more than one.

“How confident am I we can keep ship afloat? I’m fairly certain.

“I’m a lot more confident now than I was even three or four hours ago.

“That was a fairly positive meeting. There are a lot of people who shook my hand and said they would help, and a lot who said thanks for being open and frank about what the situation is.

“If you are open and frank, people will know and they will help. If you say everything is wonderful, they will think they don’t need to help.

“It’s not wonderful at the present moment, but it’s going to be an awful lot more wonderful because we are turning this thing around.

“There will be a time in the near future when we won’t have to have EGMs and we won’t have to ask again.

“With Scott’s help, we will definitely get it done.”

Given the latest loss of £872,000, youth development costs – much higher under the SFA’s Project Brave initiative – may be first to be hit if cashflow troubles continue.

Mr Morrison, who replaced Graham Rae as chairman last week, said the situation was already improving financially.

He stressed: “Last season it was not a nice situation to be in. It was a continual worry, and that’s why we brought an EGM – to flush out the problem.

“We wanted to get a sound financial foundation for the rest of the season, to get the funds together so we don’t have to worry every month.

“We’re going to have to look at what we’ve got at the moment in youth development.

“The first thing we have to make sure is the normal football activity in the first team is protected. That’s the figures I gave tonight.

“Then, we have to see what we can do with the youth academy.

“It is survival of ICTFC on the park every Saturday and then we have to look at the luxuries of the youth development side.

“We’re looking for people now because there’s just three of us [on the board] and it’s not enough.

“The more people we have, the more ideas you’ve got, the more knowledge you’ve got.

“Knowledge is power. We’re calling on ICTFC supporters to come and try it and see what you can do to help the club.

“It’s rewarding. It’s our club, we have to protect it.”

Mr Gardiner stressed there was no deadline for bringing fresh blood onto the board.

He added: “We’ll speak to them over the next few days.

“We will look to continue discussions. Tonight was critical – it was very important to lay everything out in front of the shareholders.

“Similarly, Ross and I will be doing it on Tuesday night to the supporters in the centre of the town.

“There’s no deadline, but I agree with Ross. I was cautiously optimistic before this evening and I feel better now having had the conversations we had at the end of tonight.

“There was a lot of big and influential people from the city there tonight and feedback was very good.”

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