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Highland MSP Emma Roddick pressures Inverness Caley Thistle for rethink on plans to move training ground to Kelty in Fife

By Alasdair Fraser

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MSP Emma Roddick in Holyrood.
MSP Emma Roddick in Holyrood.

A Highland MSP is urging Caley Thistle to reverse the shock decision to move its training base 135 miles to Fife.

Describing it as “a huge blow” to Highland football, the SNP’s constituency member Emma Roddick made it clear she felt the highly-controversial decision to relocate the first team to Kelty Hearts’ ground flew in the face of pledges to bring the club closer to the community.

Ms Roddick, a lifelong Caley Thistle supporter, has backed calls for fans to be given a greater say in the running of the club.

She has also written to party colleague Maree Todd, the Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport, asking for advice on how to ensure fans can be included in big decisions moving forward.

Anger has greet4ed relegation and plans for the club to shift training 135 miles south to Kelty in Fife. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Anger has greet4ed relegation and plans for the club to shift training 135 miles south to Kelty in Fife. Picture: Callum Mackay.

Following relegation from the Championship to League One, the Caley Thistle board declared they were poised to undertake a major restructuring of the club but announced the squad would remain full-time.

Announcing the Kelty move horrified the majority of supporters, with an outpouring of anger and disbelief on social media.

An ICT Supporters’ Trust meeting tomorrow night (Tuesday) is set to see those feelings vented with the fans’ group formulating a response.

Addressing one letter to chairman Ross Morrison on behalf of constituents and fans, Ms Roddick wrote: “I understand the club is in an extremely difficult position post-relegation and, indeed, pre-.

“However, you will note the dismay and confusion this announcement has (provoked) from those who have cheered the team on through thick and thin...

.Caledonian Stadium. Picture: Gair Fraser
.Caledonian Stadium. Picture: Gair Fraser

“While I and many other fans were hoping for a renewed relationship between ourselves and the club, and the club and the wider community, this feels like nothing less than the opposite.

“It is clear that the Supporters’ Trust and other fans are keen for a greater say in decision-making and a better bond between the club and the city.

“I urge you to consider reversing this decision and exploring options which can allow the club to find its way again, bringing in local support and empowering its biggest fans.

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

“That is the only way we will see the Premiership or the Scottish Cup again.

“What sets ICTFC apart is that we are a local team, with our heart in the Highlands. Our players, youth development, and operations should be here, too.”

Ms Roddick also wants to explore use of the Scottish Government’s Fan Bank initiative - offering loans to supporters’ groups to buy a share of their club - can play a part in giving ICT followers a bigger say.

In her letter to Ms Todd, Ms Roddick said: “This, as you will appreciate, is a huge blow to Highland football and to all the fans of the club - myself included - particularly as many of us had been calling for a greater focus on rebuilding the relationship with fans and the wider community.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle Supporters’ Trust (ICTST) has long sought contributions to allow greater shares in the club to be bought, giving it a bigger say in how things are run. “One big ask following relegation was for fan representation on the board. It is clear to me that this is not something that will be achieved naturally or easily.

“I wondered if you, in your capacity as Minister for Sport, could offer any advice or guidance around how we can ensure fans are included in big decisions moving forward.

“For example, whether the Fan Bank or related Scottish Government policies could help ICTST and other ICTFC fans to take a greater role in decision-making and club ownership.

“The comments from former players including, notably, former youth players taken through the Academy alumni of which include Ryan Christie, Graeme Shinnie, and Dan Mackay, clearly demonstrate how moving the training could have a huge impact on the future of Highland, or even Scottish, football.”

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