New chairman Alan Young has Raith at heart

New Raith chairman Alan Young in the boardroom at Stark's Park. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
New Raith chairman Alan Young in the boardroom at Stark's Park. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

In following Turnbull Hutton into the Raith Rovers chairmanship, it’s fair to say Alan Young has some big shoes to fill.

Turnbull became one of Scottish football’s most recognisable figures in recent years for his forthright opinions on the game, in particular the issues surrounding Rangers.

Whether or not Young chooses to be as outspoken as his predecessor remains to be seen. However, he does have one thing in common with the recently retired chairman - they are both lifelong Raith Rovers fans.

“My first involvement with the club was in 1964,” Young explained. “I come from Burntisland originally and my pal and I came through one summer to buy a season ticket.

“There was only one person here at the time - George Farm - who was the manager but he seemed to be doing everything.

“He sold us the season ticket, took the money, and gave us a guided tour of the ground.

“There was no-one else here - maybe I should mention that to the present manager!”

Young moved to Edinburgh to take up a career as a chartered accountant, becoming a senior partner at Duncan Young and Co, before retiring in 2011.

While he reluctantly admits that he spent a few seasons watching Hibs - “the first flat I owned was 250 yards away from Easter Road,” he explains - Young’s interest in Raith remained strong.

So when Mario Caira asked him to join the Kirkcaldy club’s board as a financial director in 2008, it was an offer he felt he couldn’t refuse.

“Having supported the Rovers since I was a child, it was difficult to say no, particularly when there was a need for my area of expertise as far as the board was concerned,” he said.

“Since then there have been one or two hairy moments, but it’s principally down to Turnbull and Mario that the club has not only survived, but been able to move forward.

“There are still certain financial challenges. There are good months and bad months - but it’s certainly better than what it was.”

Indeed, things have picked up at Stark’s Park considerably since the club revealed in 2011 that it had been seven minutes from administration.

Modest profits have been posted for the past two years running, meaning the club is now on a more secure financial footing than it has been for two decades.

“The main reason for those profits is that costs have been kept under control, and we’ve had extra income from cup runs, which you don’t budget for,” Young explained.

“It’s not easy running a football club as a business, particularly when everything is allied to the product that’s on the pitch, so the manager takes a lot of credit for the cup success we’ve had.”

Young is now hopeful that the club can continue to run smoothly during his tenure as chairman, which started on December 18, after his fellow board members elected him into the hot seat.

“Somebody had to do it!” he said. “When you’re appointed to do something I’ve always gone on the basis that you do it as well as you possibly can.

“The chairman looks after the club - and myself and the board have got to look after the club the best we can.

“Turnbull and Mario have both invested sizeable amounts of money into this club and I will certainly do everything I can to look after their interests.

“Having said that, as I said to Mario when I was first asked to come on board, ‘there may well be some things I say that you totally disagree with, because I’m not here to say what you want me to say’.”

Young’s appointment as chairman came on the back of a poor run of form that had fans calling for manager Grant Murray to be sacked.

Since then, back-to-back wins over Falkirk and Cowdenbeath and the arrival of Maurice Malpas as new director of football - Young’s first act as chairman - have helped to ease that pressure.

Young admitted that aspects of Murray’s tenure have not gone as planned, but he retains faith that the current boss is the right man for the job.

“It’s not gone as well as we’d hoped - having said that we won a cup and had a fabulous day,” he said. “That can’t be said very often as far as Rovers are concerned.

“The second half of last season was certainly a concern but, with the benefit of hindsight, I don’t think we’ve given Grant and Laurie the support that we should have.

“That’s part of the reason why, having had a thought put through the mind, we decided to move swiftly with Malpas.

“Whether that’s had any affect on two away victories or not - who knows.

“It probably would’ve happened anyway - but you never know.

“We’re sitting in sixth place in league. Okay, we’ve had a dodgy little time, but that’s two wins in a row, and two clean sheets in a row.

“It’s all part of the manager’s learning curve. It’s a matter of taking it game by game - because things can change quickly.

“There’s certainly a much better atmosphere now than there was before those two wins. I’m certainly interested to see how we can continue that on Saturday in a home match because our home form has not been good.”

One of Young’s key aspirations as chairman is to create a more positive atmosphere in all aspects of the club.

“One of the most important things I’ve got to achieve here is to get everyone in and around the club having a positive attitude,” he said.

“I recognise that’s a big job but we’ve got to be enthusiastic and say, ‘yes, we can do that’.We’ve got to move forward as far as the fans are concerned and I’m happy for anybody to email me after a game - so long as they wait until Monday before sending it!

“There will also be a general meeting on February 12 and all fans will be invited, rather than just shareholders.

“The board and management team will be there.”

Young also has aspirations for the club to challenge for promotion to the Premiership.

He said: “I would like to think that every so often we can flirt with the play-offs and maybe every now and again get up into the Premiership.

“In all honesty, we’re a Championship side, but you can still have aspirations.

“All I’d ask is for everyone to be positive, enthusiastic and remember that the players out on that pitch are doing as much as they can to get the result that everybody here wants.”

Young has invited any supporters who wish to send him an email to write to chairman@raithrovers.net.