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Will Clark: Moving first team training base to Fife is a sign Inverness Caley Thistle has sold its soul

By Will Clark

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There are 139 miles between Inverness and Kelty, but the distance of the relationship between Caley Thistle and its fans could be further than at any point in its 30-year history.

The news came through on Friday that Caley Thistle are going to be relocating its training base to a former coal mining town in Fife.

Their reasons? In a statement they wrote: “The last few years have seen the geographic challenges in getting players to move to the Highlands.”

They go into how the commercial success of the city of Inverness has led to high prices for accommodation to house players and limited housing stock. They say where they train should not be an impediment to the quality of players they can attract to the club.

But was that the point of Inverness Caledonian Thistle being created in the first place?

A full 30 years after forming, Caley Thistle may be facing its greatest existential challenge. Picture: James Mackenzie
A full 30 years after forming, Caley Thistle may be facing its greatest existential challenge. Picture: James Mackenzie

Before 1994, the most northern league team in Scotland was Aberdeen. That year saw Caledonian and Inverness Thistle join forces to create the club we know today.

As we all know, it was not a popular decision at the time, but over the last 30 years the club has gone on to do things nobody thought imaginable: two Scottish Cup finals (winning one), a League Cup final and Europa League football.

Out of their 30 years of existence, 12 have been in the Premiership. The club accomplished all this while managing to attract players to Inverness as well as produce their own.

They proved, along with Ross County, you didn’t need to be at the south end of the A9, or Aberdeen, to prove you can make a success of it in Scottish football.

It is without question that this is the darkest period in the club’s history. They have financial issues and restructuring is required, but this is a decision which threatens to rip the heart out of the football club.

Fans have rightfully voiced their discontent to the announcement and have launched a petition for the decision to be scrapped. It’s been hard enough to get fans of Caledonian and Inverness Thistle to accept ICT without them training down south.

The future of its youth academy, at the time I write this, also remains in doubt. Having a training camp in Fife is hardly a glowing endorsement for its conveyor belt of talent coming through.

I don’t know what is going through the minds of talented youngsters coming through the academy, hearing the first team training camp is being shifted so the club can attract better players. How is that going to inspire the next stars from the city?

Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Ross County have proven success can be achieved during their 30 years in the SPFL.

Caley Thistle is at its darkest point since 1994 and its relationship with the community has grown even dimmer with this announcement.

It is accepted that club have to make hard decisions in a time of financial difficulty, but this decision feels like the club has sold its soul – and become a little less special.

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