WATCH: Benefit of Inverness Caledonian Thistle's battery storage facility approval to be seen 'within weeks', claims chief executive Scot Gardiner
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner says that the club will benefit “within weeks” from a battery storage facility it has been given permission to build.
The project near Fairways Business Park, which ICT had been working on for three years, was passed at Highland Council on Wednesday.
Both Gardiner and club chairman Ross Morrison spoke ahead of the vote how crucial it was for the football club’s future, saying it would safeguard Caley Thistle for years to come. Now, after getting approval, Gardiner expects Inverness to see the benefits imminently.
“We knew how very serious and important it was to us,” Gardiner said.
“We left the chamber and I’m not ashamed to say there were hugs and tears outside. We can now secure this brilliant football club and exemplar in the community for years to come.
“That’s what was in the balance. It wasn’t just putting a team on the pitch – it was serving breakfast to kids who don’t get breakfast, and serving Christmas meals to people who don’t get them. These were all on the line, not just whether we could sign another centre forward.
“It was an enormously happy moment, but we were probably in a bit of shock because it seemed like everything was going against us during the debate.
“We will see the benefits within weeks. We knew that going in, because contracts had been signed but couldn’t be purified unless planning permission was granted. It will be weeks and not months.”
Naturally, ICT supporters may see headlines about extra money coming into the club and wonder whether that will translate to investment on the pitch.
“That’s what we intend, but when football clubs sell a player for a lot of money or a new owner comes in there’s not always forward planning,” Gardiner added.
"Securing our land back has been a vital thing ever since I came to the club. We got our stadium back just as I was joining, and we have got more land back since. After that, we then had the ability to develop the land so that there is a six-figure sum coming into the football club every year.
"That means it won't matter if we get a bad run of injuries and drop down the table – as has happened – because the club would be secure.
"That said, we brought in Duncan Ferguson with a view to furnishing him with the players to have a go at promotion, and this season will play out because he joined after the summer window closed. We will give it our best shot and see, and then next season we will be in a better place.
"It's not all about that, it's about securing the future of the football club so that there is a team that can have a run at the league or the cup. That's the most important thing.
"I think we are a pillar of a community, and now we can be even more of one, because if you're skint you can't do any good for anyone. Most reasonable fans recognise that.
"It was critical to get this approval. It was an absolute sliding-doors moment for this football club, make no mistake about it.
"That will come when they write the story of this club in another 30 years. This will be seen to be one of the most pivotal moments in the club's history – but only if we manager it properly now."
The security that Gardiner speaks of comes at a crucial time, with Inverness last year reporting an annual loss of over £800,000.
The Caley Thistle chief executive admits it will be difficult under any circumstances to turn a profit while the club remain in the Championship, but he hopes that those days of close to seven-figure losses are now behind them.
"In the Championship, it's very difficult to be profitable, but if this is garnered correctly and managed properly then it will allow us to make sure that that's our situation," he explained.
"It will mean we can give a manager more to have a better chance of getting promoted, or if and when we get promoted a better chance of staying there.
"That only happens if we garner it properly. This is worth seven figures to the club, and it's about what we do with that money.
"The seed capital allows us to do things to the stadium that really badly need done – like fix leaking roofs and improve the facilities we want to be better – which you can't do when you're losing £800,000 a year and you don't have someone wealthy backing you.
"We have got to make sure we manage this properly and spend the money correctly so that we can move forward.
"A lot of businesses have supported us for a long time, and we need to make sure they are looked after properly for that. It was a serious moment in the club's history."
Watch the full interview with Scot Gardiner, including an explanation of exactly how ICT will make money from the facility, below