Raith tap into Westminster contacts to create link with Norwich

Former  PM Gordon Brown has helped set up a link between Raith Rovers and Norwich City, whose chairman is his former cabinet minister, Ed Balls. Pic: Neil Doig
Former PM Gordon Brown has helped set up a link between Raith Rovers and Norwich City, whose chairman is his former cabinet minister, Ed Balls. Pic: Neil Doig

Raith Rovers are making further inroads into English football - with help from the former Prime Minister.

After tapping into manager Ray McKinnon’s contacts to secure the signing of Harry Panayiotou from Premiership leaders Leicester City last week, the Press can reveal that Kirkcaldy club has also developed similar links with Norwich City through Rovers fan Gordon Brown.

Following the recent appointed of Ed Balls as chairman of Norwich, a former cabinet minister under Brown, the pair held talks about a possible link-up between the two clubs.

The green light was given and Eric Drysdale, Raith chief executive, has been in touch with the Norwich technical director, Ricky Martin, and a relationship has developed that could see more youngsters from the English Premiership heading to Stark’s Park in the future.

Raith were, in fact, offered a player from Norwich on loan during the January window, who also has international experience, but instead opted to bring Panayiotou to Stark’s Park.

Drysdale explained: “We didn’t proceed on this occasion but this relationship is open and Norwich would be delighted to work with us going forward to bring some young players up to gain experience.

“It’s all very positive but I would like to stress that this is something extra and not Raith Rovers youth development policy. We very much have our own youth development side and that will continue and hopefully grow in the months and years ahead.

“This is just an extra avenue we can used to bring in players we can’t really afford but can use these relationships to get good value, talented young players.

“Hopefully next season and in future years we’ll be able to build on the relationships we’ve been able to develop in January, and try and keep the club at the level it’s at and possibly take it to the next level.”

Drysdale also highlighted the influence McKinnon has had in forging links with clubs down south.

“The gaffer has good contacts in England, which is partly why he got the job in the first place,” Drysdale said.

“He gets tipped the wink if there’s someone of possible interest, but 99 times out of 100 we can’t afford them.

“Once in a while there’s a deal that can be done.

“These clubs have larger squads than we have, and they can’t give everyone a game.

“Harry is absolutely good enough for our level but can’t get a game for Leicester right now, for obvious reasons.

“There can be rich picking if you’re in contact with the right people, and in Ray we have a manager who has a reputation for being a good coach.

“We also have our first class training facilities at Michael Woods so clubs are delighted to send their young players up here. Coming to Raith Rovers can give them a platform to improve.”

Raith are inactive this weekend as the fifth round of the Scottish Cup takes place, however the club faces a busy next few months with re-arranged games against St Mirren (a) and Queen of the South (h) to schedule in following postponements.