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Promotion is target

Robertson returns as Inverness manager

John Robertson unveiled as ICT manager (Photo: SNS Group)

John Robertson has returned to management with Inverness Caledonian Thistle 13 years after leading the club into the Premiership for the first time in its history.

The former Hearts boss replaces Richie Foran, who was sacked following the club’s relegation in May.

Robertson, who has signed a two-year deal, was previously in charge of the Highlands outfit from 2002 to 2004, during which time he masterminded the club’s historic promotion to the top flight.

He left Inverness to take over the reins at Tynecastle but has not held a managerial post since leaving East Fife in March 2012.

The 52-year-old leaves Hearts to take up the post, where he has been working as Head of Coach Education along with ambassadorial duties.

ICT chairman Willie Finlayson said: “We had an excellent interview process with some strong candidates but John emerged as our unanimous choice. We were hugely impressed with his tremendous drive, determination, communication and motivational skills.

“He clearly has a great knowledge of the game in Scotland and is both well respected and connected. We firmly believe he is the right man to lead us back into the Premier League.”

There could also be imminent managerial changes at Aberdeen, with Derek McInnes in talks with Sunderland to replace David Moyes.

The clubs are reported to be haggling over compensation, with the Dons demanding in the region of £1.2 million for McInnes, whose contract at Pittodrie runs until 2019.

Scottish football, meanwhile, may have its critics but according to figures released by the Scottish Professional Football League, a record number of supporters flocked to matches last season.

The total number of fans attending SPFL league matches including play-offs during season 2016/17 increased by more than 12% year-on-year to 4,267,467 in total.

Almost half-a-million extra fans came through the gates in 788 games across all four divisions, including play-offs, between August 2016 and May 2017 when compared with the previous period (3,804,342).

It’s the first time total league and play-offs attendances have topped the four million mark since season 2008/09 (4,252,212).

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “These figures are hugely encouraging and testament both to the hard work of clubs in attracting people to games as well as the commitment and passion of supporters of all 42 SPFL clubs.”

A further 396,855 fans attended 95 Betfred Cup matches and 54,620 went to 54 IRN-BRU Cup games, however year-on-year comparisons are unavailable due the new format of both competitions.

In total there were 4,698,942 supporters at SPFL games across all competitions during season 2016/17 and Mr Doncaster is confident that figure could rise in the forthcoming campaign.

“There is already a great level of excitement ahead of SPFL season 2017/18 with many of our clubs executing some very creative season ticket marketing campaigns to help attract even more fans to attend matches regularly,” he said.

“All of this sends out a very positive message and provides a great platform for the SPFL and clubs to continue to improve the overall profile and health of Scottish football.”

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