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Former Inverness Caley Thistle goalkeeper Mark Ridgers contemplating career move outside of football as free agent hunt for a new club goes on

By Andrew Henderson

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Former Inverness Caledonian Thistle goalkeeper Mark Ridgers says he is contemplating moves outside of football as he has been left frustrated by free agency.

The 33-year-old shot stopper has been on the lookout for a new club since his contract at the Caledonian Stadium came to an end last month, saying he was keeping his options open in the hope of finding a suitable move.

Despite offers coming in, though, he is yet to put pen-to-paper on a contract with any club.

Ridgers is looking for a range of factors to fall into place, between playing time, compensation and also making sure his family are happy if he does decide to move somewhere other than the Highland capital.

With the 2024/25 season fast approaching on the horizon too, he is realistic enough to be thinking about career next steps outside of full-time football in case he needs to break the emergency glass.

“I’m not going to lie, I’ve had a good few offers from teams in the Premiership, Championships, League One, the Highland League, England and even an offer from a team in Northern Ireland,” he recounted.

“There is plenty there, but the official offers I’ve had just haven’t really ticked all the boxes I’m looking for.

“The biggest thing for me now is my family. If I have to relocate, I don’t really want to move them for the sake of a year, so the big thing for me at the moment is finding the right project that suits me.

“I’ve had offers and people speaking to me saying they want me to come in and challenge, and then you get the message back saying that the board don’t have the budget for two senior goalies.

“Comparing that to the offer I got from an English National League South team, there was more money in that offer from England than a team in the Scottish Championship. That surprised me a little bit.

“That’s where I’m kind of stuck. It’s probably the right time for me to start thinking outside of football, because there are a couple of part-time offers there for me too.

“As the weeks go on, that’s where I think I have the better chance of starting something outside of football. I have ideas to start my own goalkeeping academy, so these are things that I’ve been planning – it has just come maybe a year or two sooner than I wanted it to.”

Mark Ridgers is still keeping his options open as he hopes to find a new club before the 2024/25 season starts. Picture: Ken Macpherson
Mark Ridgers is still keeping his options open as he hopes to find a new club before the 2024/25 season starts. Picture: Ken Macpherson

Ridgers is still keeping his options open in the hope of finding a new club, but having to test out the free agent market has been a surprising experience – and not in a particular positive way.

“I’m quite open about what I’m doing – I’ve got nothing sorted, I’ve got these offers there for me – but what has surprised me the most is what some teams are willing to pay,” he explained.

“I think because I’m a free agent, some teams think they will get me on the cheap. If teams want you to compete as a number one, realistically they should be looking to pay you in that range.

“Some of the offers I’ve had have been good, and I would have agreed to them if I didn’t have other commitments.

“I obviously still want to play, I still have ambitions and I want to get back into training. If I do have to go part-time, I’m not really bothered about that, I just want to continue to play and the longer I’m off the more I want to get back to it.

“I’ve been doing training myself, and I’ve actually contacted a club in the Highland League about going to train with them to keep myself ticking over.

“It is worrying and it isn’t that I’m still a free agent. The Scottish League Cup starts on Saturday, but having had contact rom teams down in England as well those teams only went back for pre-season last week.

“I’ve spoken to agents abroad as well, because I haven’t ruled that out either if a good opportunity came about. I still have a couple of years left at least, so it’s just a case of making sure that my next move is one that suits everybody.

“This month is key I think, so we’ll see what happens come the end of July because the league starts in August, that’s the same throughout the whole of the UK.

“I have to use social media to keep my name out there. Living in Inverness, location-wise some people think I wouldn’t want to move, but I am willing to move if the right opportunity comes up.”

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