Wednesday 8th August, 2018 at 5:55pm
Last Sunday’s Partick Thistle Open Day proved a huge success with almost 500 supporters descending on the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill for a day filled with football, autographs and fun for all the family.
The day culminated in an Alan Rough Lounge packed full of Jags fans waiting to hear what Jacqui Low, Ian Dodd, Alan Rough, Gerry Britton and, of course, Alan Archibald would have to say about the Betfred Cup campaign so far as well as the upcoming Championship season.
For those who weren’t able to make it below is a brief summary of the main areas covered by the panel.
On the development of the McParland Park Training Complex Chairman, Jacqui Low, gave an update:
“We’ve secured the land now but it’s been a while in the making. The people selling the land took a long time over it but that time wasn’t wasted. Parallel to the purchase of the land going through, we started the architectural work, the dealing with suppliers and the contractual work. As such, literally as soon as the announcement was made, we were able to set the development process into gear. With that in mind we are still aiming at around this time next year for it to be in use.”
With his experience of the Academy set-up Club Chief Exec, Gerry Britton, explained the impact the facility would have on the Club’s youth set up. He said:
“It will enhance the quality of sessions that our guys can put on. Currently, at all levels, our guys have a slot that we pay for like anyone else which means you have to be on and off at certain times. However, if you have your own facility there is no excuse to not put on extensive, comprehensive training sessions that really help the players to improve. It should be a huge boost for the entire academy pathway.”
The City End
Club Director, Ian Dodd, gave an update on developments around the City End of the stadium. He said:
“The situation hasn’t really changed over the last year. There has been a planning application submitted and that has been approved. We are currently working to secure developers to work on that area of the ground but the economic climate still isn’t in a great position to start that sort of work. Having said that, hopefully it’s not too far away.
“The current plan for that end of the stadium involves residential property, club facilities and, in front of that, a standing section for supporters.”
Alan Archibald gave his view on the move away from a Development League towards a Reserve League format:
“I actually prefer the Reserve League. The change hasn’t just been with the Development League though, further down, they’ve brought in under 18s. Previously, it went from 17s to Development League to senior level but now with 18s being brought in, it’s easier to bridge that gap because so often players don’t make the cut because the jump is too big or comes at the wrong time.”
In his first official outing as a fully-fledged Club Director, Alan Rough gave some insight into his first few weeks:
“I’ve come into my position and I’m loving every minute of it. It’s been an eye-opener for me, having been a player for such a huge part of my life, before then spending time in the media, now having a chance to work behind the scenes is brilliant. No one really sees the inner sanctum of what’s happening and the board members are constantly working really hard to help the Club.”
As is always the case at this time of year the hot topic was inevitably around signings with the gaffer fielding a number of questions. Covering the key areas, he said:
“We need at least three at the moment and then potentially more depending on who leaves. We’re still short in a few areas of the pitch and we’re trying to get deals done all the time.
“There are different reasons that deals don’t happen. For example, we signed young Max Melbourne at left-back to compete with James for that position but that’s been lined up since we first came back and we’ve been waiting for the parent club. Sometimes for different reasons, transfers can be held up.
“We had hoped that we wouldn’t need to sign any more midfielders but, as everyone knows, Stuart Bannigan has had a knockback after a great pre-season. He worked so hard over the summer to get fit and he’d been part of every single training session up until the few days leading up to the Betfred Cup opener. We think he’ll be back in a few weeks but we can’t take that gamble based on where we are at the moment.”
Finally, Archie gave an update of the situation with Niall Keown:
“Ultimately, it’s down to Niall. As it stands, we can’t afford his wages, which is not his fault but is the situation we’re in. Niall didn’t have the wage drop clause in his contract which means he’s still on Premiership wages and it’s a decision that Niall has to make himself. He’s a good player and if he wants to take a wage reduction, that offer would be there for him.
“Niall only played against Ayr because Tam O’Ware was ill and hadn’t been in since Tuesday night. As it stands, he’s still on the transfer list and we’re open to offers.”