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Inverness Caley Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner predicts multiple benefits for Scottish football – and potentially ICTFC – should Giovanni van Bronckhorst's Rangers triumph in tonight's Europa League final against Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville.


By Alasdair Fraser


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Caledonian Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner.
Caledonian Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner.

Caley Thistle CEO Scot Gardiner believes a Rangers triumph in Seville tonight would be a game-changer for Scottish football’s worldwide profile and standing.

The Championship club’s chief strategist is currently focusing all energies on preparations for a very different occasion, the Premiership play-off final first leg at home to St Johnstone.

Gardiner, though, is well aware of the benefits a Europa League final victory for Giovanni van Brockhorst’s men against Eintracht Frankfurt would bring to the national game.

Already cresting a wave generated by the national team’s recent revival, Scottish football would boast two teams in next season’s Champions League group stages should the Ibrox side reign in Spain.

Were Caley Thistle to grasp promotion in the next few days, that would secure a share of UEFA ‘solidarity’ money for next season, distributed through national associations, already worth over £400,000 to club coffers.

Caledonian Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner.
Caledonian Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner.

Promotion would also mean an early season SPFL payment of £600,000 as opposed to the mere £60,000 meted out to Championship outfits.

Those riches, among other income streams, would be transformative for Caley Thistle but the club CEO also sees huge importance in what a Rangers victory could mean in terms of the broader national game’s prestige and international esteem.

With a past commercial role at Tottenham Hotspur behind him, Mr Gardiner experienced first hand the low regard for Scottish football prevalent south of the border.

He feels our game’s standing in the eyes of our nearest neighbours, as well as in Europe and beyond, could be transformed tonight.

“For Scottish football, just as it would have been in Seville in 2003 had Celtic won the final against Jose Mourinho’s Porto, it would be beyond incredible,” Gardiner said.

“In terms of credibility, it would simply elevate everything for our game in the eyes of Europe and beyond.

“Particularly having lived and worked in England in English football, the sheer patronising disregard for our game, was infuriating. There was a great deal of the looking down their noses attitude towards Scottish football.

“It could be pretty derogatory at times, even among some senior players and staff, and we used to argue about it all the time.

“Something like this, with Eintracht Frankfurt having beaten West Ham home and away, changes it.

“If Rangers go and beat them and lift the trophy tonight - and I reckon it's a 50-50 shout - a team that has beaten Barcelona, West Ham and Bayern Munich this season, it would be incredible for Scottish football.

“I really hope they do it.”

Gardiner shed light on how adversity and the scale of challenge facing Billy Dodds’ squad has brought them ever closer together as they strive to give the city of Inverness a huge shot in the arm by returning to the top league.

Picture - Ken Macpherson. Premiership play-off semi-final 2nd Leg. Arbroath(0) v Inverness CT(0). 13.05.22. ICT win 5-3 on penalties. ICT manager Billy Dodds joins players to celebrate to supporters.
Picture - Ken Macpherson. Premiership play-off semi-final 2nd Leg. Arbroath(0) v Inverness CT(0). 13.05.22. ICT win 5-3 on penalties. ICT manager Billy Dodds joins players to celebrate to supporters.

There was a fresh blow today with the failure of the red card appeal for defender Danny Devine leaving manager Dodds’ injury-stricken squad even thinner.

Gardiner revealed there could be a crowd of over 5,000 at the Caledonian Stadium given sales so far for the live televised first leg against St Johnstone.

Excitement has been building to fever pitch locally with backing and regard for the team at an all-time high after recent heroics.

“We couldn’t have been more emotional than we were at the end of last Friday’s match. It was a remarkable victory in the circumstances,” Gardiner said.

“We’re stretched in terms of fit and available players and can’t afford anything to happen to anyone else, especially after losing Danny.

“It’s okay playing, say, our striker Billy Mckay at right-back for 20 minutes, but not over two legs against a Premiership side.

Picture - Ken Macpherson. Premiership play-off semi-final 2nd Leg. Arbroath(0) v Inverness CT(0). 13.05.22. ICT win 5-3 on penalties. ICT’s Kirk Broadfoot celebrates their win.
Picture - Ken Macpherson. Premiership play-off semi-final 2nd Leg. Arbroath(0) v Inverness CT(0). 13.05.22. ICT win 5-3 on penalties. ICT’s Kirk Broadfoot celebrates their win.

“The red cards against Arbroath were two incredulous decisions and we’re bitterly disappointed to lose the appeal, but we will benefit from an atmosphere we’ve not had at the stadium in quite a few years.

“It feels like the manner of the win over Arbroath, against the odds in such difficult circumstances, has actually galvanised the club even more - players, support and management all together.”


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