On Tuesday this week it was announced that fifteen players had left Scottish First Division side, Raith Rovers. This followed just hours after the startling news that fellow league side Falkirk had asked eighteen players to depart their club. However, are Rovers simply shedding excess players, or are the Kirkcaldy club really in serious financial difficulty?
Recently, Chairman Dave Somerville offered an honest assessment of the club’s finances on the official website. He admitted it is a “myth” that the club are debt free and that certain Directors and a Shareholder have been adding personal funds at critical times of the season, but that “this practice cannot continue.” It seems that even Rovers, a club with a modest First Division budget, are struggling to sustain full-time football without outside investment.
However, while fifteen players does sound like a major cull (especially at a level where fellow First Division side, Queen of the South, often struggled to field eleven senior players throughout the season), the cuts to Raith budget do not appear as severe as first thought. Seven of the released players were from the under nineteen squad and four were ‘squad players’ or ‘bench warmers’. Of the four first team players released, Gregory Tade had been offered two contracts but had rejected them both, as he wanted to test himself at SPL level. Therefore the remaining three: Craig Wilson, Stephen Simmons and Mark Campbell are the only first team players who have actually been culled. Yes, just three.
So after looking a little closer at the cuts, it becomes apparent that while there are obvious budget cuts, the negative newspaper headlines and downbeat interviews from Rovers manager John McGlynn, are perhaps a little exaggerated. With the loss of promoted Dunfermline Athletic’s sizeable away support, there was always going to be a reduction in Raith’s budget and if Directors are having to subsidise the club during harsh winters, then obviously, re-adjusting the finances is
Clearly, it would be wrong to label Raith Rovers as a club in crisis, but simply one re-adjusting to the financial climate and factors out of their control. Indeed, if it is true that Raith have signed Greenock Morton’s top striker, Brian Graham, the cuts are not even close to being catastrophic.
John McGlynn and the Raith board are quite rightly lowering the expectation of fans, especially after a season of pushing above their weight, but perspective must be retained.