Ambitious plans need the backing of Raith fans

Raith Rovers chief executive Eric Drysdale
Raith Rovers chief executive Eric Drysdale

Raith Rovers’ ambitious plans to appoint a full-time head of youth development could hinge on financial support from fans and sponsors.

The post is to be partly funded by the Player Development Fund launched last month, but after a slow initial uptake, the club is renewing its appeal for contributions.

Eric Drysdale, Raith chief executive, explained: “It’s an extra salary and there is, as ever, very limited funds here at Stark’s Park, which is why we launched the Player Development Fund.

“The uptake so far has been pretty disappointing, so we need to proceed cautiously but determinedly in the direction of this new set-up.

“But clearly we can’t overcommit the club financially, therefore we need further support from supporters and local businesses.”

The role was previously covered by Laurie Ellis who combined his work as first-team coach with overseeing the club’s young apprentices.

However, Raith now believe that a full-time coach is required to help bridge the gap between the Fife Elite Academy and the first team.

“Laurie was pulled in several directions as first team coach while also in charge of the apprentices and their development once they came through from the academy,” Drysdale added.

“The board has decided that we need to give greater emphasis to youth development and the transition from the Fife Elite Academy through to the Raith Rovers first team - and manage that process better.

“We’re looking to appoint someone to oversee the whole youth into professional transition.

“That includes helping with the selection of players coming out of the academy, responsibility for training them alongside and with the first team, and being able to offer an opinion to the manager over when a player is ready to step up to first team.”

The Player Development Fund asks fans far and wide to make a monthly contribution which will help towards the costs of running a Development Squad with a dedicated coach.

“We’re not asking people to over commit, just to help us in a modest fashion to develop this project further,” Drysdale said. “We’re talking about a tenner a month, or more if you can afford it.

“The club will be funding more than 50 per cent of it, but the bottom line is we can’t afford to fund it all without jeopardising the first team budget.

“Each and every director of the club is personally contributing as well so we’re not asking people to do things the board themselves are not prepared to do.”