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EXCLUSIVE: Fife Council, not Kelty Hearts, own stadium where Inverness Caley Thistle want to train Duncan Ferguson’s players - and want to “weigh-up” how it might affect community use

By Alasdair Fraser

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New Central Park, Kelty. Picture: Wikimedia Commons/John Lord
New Central Park, Kelty. Picture: Wikimedia Commons/John Lord

Fife Council, rather than Kelty Hearts, owns the stadium Caley Thistle plan to use for first team training - and is seeking answers on the deal struck.

The local authority says it has had no involvement in talks regarding the Inverness club’s hugely controversial training base move 145 miles south from Fort George to the Fife village.

With agreement in place between the clubs, Fife Council - which controls access to the pitch and owns the land on which Kelty have placed buildings - says it is “weighing up the impact” the Caley Thistle deal could have on existing community use.

The clear implication is that Fife Council should have been involved in any talks to reach agreement on the stadium’s use.

Kelty Hearts does own facilities surrounding the pitch, including offices Caley Thistle intend to rent from their new League One rivals, not the land itself

But it is Fife Council who owns the New Central Park stadium and operates the 3G artificial pitch where Duncan Ferguson would put his players through their paces.

Caley Thistle now say they are “awaiting further details from Kelty Hearts” on how the partnership and lease will work.

ICTFC Chairman Ross Morrison. Picture: Callum Mackay. Picture: Callum Mackay.
ICTFC Chairman Ross Morrison. Picture: Callum Mackay. Picture: Callum Mackay.

The revelation follows Wednesday night’s packed Supporters’ Trust meeting where an estimated 200 fans voiced opposition to the Fife move, with many stating they would boycott ICT season tickets and games.

WATCH: “The only way we feel that we can be felt and heard is by holding our money back.”

The Inverness club, relegated from the Championship to League One and already under severe financial pressure, has said it is seeking to cut costs by up to £400,000 by relocating closer to the central belt, reducing the need to pay to re-house players in the Highlands.

Inverness Caley Thistle announce partnership with Kelty Hearts that will see club move first team training to Fife – but insists Inverness will always be the club’s home

Fife Council’s understanding is that discussions over arrangements are still ongoing between Caley Thistle and Kelty Hearts, rather than having been concluded and set in stone.

The local authority confirmed New Central Park was a community use facility and any booking to enable use by Caley Thistle would need to be made via the council.

Picture - Ken Macpherson..See story..ICT manager Duncan Ferguson pictured at a press conference.
Picture - Ken Macpherson..See story..ICT manager Duncan Ferguson pictured at a press conference.

Approached for clarification by the Inverness Courier, community manager Sarah Roxburgh confirmed that Fife Council owns the pitch.

She also confirmed that the council had not been involved in the partnership plans recently announced by Kelty Hearts and Inverness Caley Thistle.

She said: “We understand discussions between the two clubs are still ongoing.

“On behalf of Fife Council, we’ll need to be involved to review current booking terms and conditions as well as weigh up the impact that this may have on the availability of the community pitch to other users with any potential benefits.”

A spokeswoman added further clarification: “Kelty Hearts lease part of the ground their buildings are on - portacabin and such like - on land we own surrounding the artificial pitch.

“Any arrangement for use of that space should come through the council.

“It is a community use facility.”

Caley Thistle chairman Ross Morrison said: “Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club have a signed partnership agreement with Kelty Hearts Football Club involving the joint use of facilities at New Central Park.

“We are currently awaiting further details from Kelty Hearts on how the partnership and lease will be crystallised.

“We are aware that Kelty Hearts are in discussions with Fife Council in relation to this.”

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