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Scottish club move training base 140 miles in bid to attract players

Inverness Caledonian Thistle will train 140 miles south of their Highland home in a bid to attract more players to the club.

Inverness were demoted to League One, the third tier of Scottish football, at the end of the Championship season after defeat to Hamilton in the promotion/relegation play-off.

It is the first time this century that Caley have dropped into the division, with fans protesting after the defeat and calling for changes at board level.

Inverness have now announced, though, that they will train at the home of fellow League One club Kelty Hearts next season in Fife having “struggled to attract” senior players in recent years.

The club will continue to play at Caledonian Stadium but hope that the move will allow them to succeed in the transfer market.

“ICTFC are delighted to announce an innovative agreement with League 1 side Kelty Hearts which will see the club move our training base to the Fife club’s New Central Park Stadium,” the club said in a statement.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle were beaten by Celtic in the 2023 Scottish Cup final
Inverness Caledonian Thistle were beaten by Celtic in the 2023 Scottish Cup final (Getty Images)

“This creative partnership will mean that we will hire their excellent facilities which include a 3g pitch, onsite grass pitches and offices for our coaching staff, as our training base during the week starting from this coming pre-season in June.

“The last few years have seen the geographic challenges in getting players to move to the Highlands become ever harder for a number of reasons. Caledonian Stadium will always be our home, but other factors in Scottish football have changed and where we train should not be an impediment to the quality of the players we can attract to Caley Thistle, or to our potential to progress.

“The commercial success of the city of Inverness – which will always be our home – both as a tourist destination and a place to live, has led to very high prices for the accommodation we require to house players. In addition to these high costs which our competitors do not carry, the extremely limited housing stock in Inverness continues to be both a challenge and a huge factor working against us.

“It makes it particularly challenging for us to sign senior players, a category which through no fault of our budget, or of previous ICT Managers, we have struggled to attract in the last few seasons. Similarly, our location means that we miss out on the opportunity of signing promising players from the larger clubs in Scotland, on loan or otherwise.”

The club appeared in the Scottish Cup final as recently as last year, losing 3-1 to Celtic at Hampden Park, but endured a difficult campaign.

Billy Dodds was sacked after losing five of the first six games of the season, with former Everton striker Duncan Ferguson installed in charge.

Duncan Ferguson is now in charge of Inverness Caledonian Thistle
Duncan Ferguson is now in charge of Inverness Caledonian Thistle (PA Archive)

Ferguson was unable to keep the club up, though has expressed a desire to stay even with many players out of contract after relegation.

“We now look forward to taking further positive strides on and off the pitch to address the football and financial challenges we face we believe this exciting opportunity to help us attract players previously not available to us and build a better squad, is one of the first steps we can make and we hope to develop further innovative partnerships,” the club’s statement continued.

“Inverness is and will always be our home. The Caledonian Stadium will always be where we play our football. We hope this venture will help us achieve our goal in giving our supporters a team to be proud of.”

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