New twist

Fife Council wants answers to training ground deal

Pressure: Scot Gardiner

Fife Council is demanding answers to the controversial deal between Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Kelty Hearts which will see the Highlanders move their training base nearly 150 miles to the Fife village.

The local authority owns and operates New Central Park but says it has not been involved in any discussions over allowing such use of the 3G pitch, according to the Inverness Courier.

It’s reported that Kelty Hearts owns facilities surrounding the pitch, including offices Caley Thistle plans to rent from their new League One rivals, but not the land itself.

The Inverness Caledonian Thistle board has come under extreme pressure from irate supporters in the wake of the deal, with fans calling for chairman Ross Morrison and chief executive Scot Gardiner to step down.

Supporters have also claimed they would rather see the club go into administration.

Fife Council says it is “weighing up the impact” the agreement could have on existing community use.

Sarah Roxburgh, the local authority’s community manager, said: “We understand discussions between the two clubs are still ongoing.

“On behalf of Fife Council, we’ll need to be involved to review current booking terms and conditions as well as weigh up the impact that this may have on the availability of the community pitch to other users with any potential benefits.”

A Fife Council spokeswoman added: “Kelty Hearts lease part of the ground their buildings are on – portacabin and such like – on land we own surrounding the artificial pitch.

“Any arrangement for use of that space should come through the council. It is a community use facility.”

Caley Thistle now says it is “awaiting further details from Kelty Hearts” on how the partnership and lease will work.

The club is under mounting financial pressure and was relegated from the Championship to League One earlier this month.

It says it is looking at cutting costs by up to £400,000 by relocating closer to the central belt, reducing the need to pay to re-house players in the Highlands.

Chairman Ross Morrison said: “Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club have a signed partnership agreement with Kelty Hearts Football Club involving the joint use of facilities at New Central Park.

“We are currently awaiting further details from Kelty Hearts on how the partnership and lease will be crystallised. We are aware that Kelty Hearts are in discussions with Fife Council in relation to this.”

Robert Andrew from the Inverness Caledonian Thistle Supporters’ Trust said: “People feel worse about this decision than they did about relegation a week ago.

“I really hope the board will reconsider and keep Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s heart and soul in the city of Inverness.”

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