Boss wins top award as Raith spread net wide for players

Rovers will take time to find new faces.

ANTONIO Calderon capped a fine first season of management this week when he was named joint winner of the Second Division manager of the year award.

At the lavish ceremony hosted by league sponsors Bell's, Raith chairman Danny Smith accepted the award on behalf of Calderon, who is at home in Spain, which was shared with Brechin City boss Dick Campbell.

It is believed to be the first time the voting was tied but few could argue that both managers deserved recognition for their achievement in winning promotion.

Meanwhile, it is all quiet on the player front with Rovers unlikely to make any signings until well into next month, although it is understood contact has been made with one or two players, and Smith expects to have made progress by the time he goes to Spain to see Calderon in the first week in June.

The chairman is also confident that those offered new one-year contracts will accept and remains hopeful that Darren Brady will again be a Raith player next season.

"The Argentinian trio have all made positive noises about staying but they are not due back at the club until the end of June, so we will know more then," Smith said.

"Cristian Patino's agent Willie McKay had talked about taking him down south but we have a good relationship with Willie and he's happy for him to stay.

"As for Brady, it all depends on whether Livingston release him but indications are that they will and I hope we can sort something out."

As is the way in Scottish football, Raith have been linked with a number of players already but Smith again emphasised this was all merely speculation and with the financial situation as it is, Rovers are likely to spread their net wide in the search for new talent.

"We have to look at all options, including loans, and it may be that England offers a good opportunity to pick up players who are value for money," Smith said. "It would be great if two or three people came along and offered to sponsor a player for the season by paying his wages but we are realistic and that's why we have set a budget."

Season ticket sales have reached almost half of last season's total but the deadline for the first discount is on Saturday, with the new deal of five per cent off coming into effect.

The 2003/04 season will kick off with the opening round of the Bell's Cup on Saturday, August 2, with the league campaign starting a week later.

Raith company secretary Eric Drysdale is to run for the post of vice-president of the Scottish Football League.

The vote will take place on May 30 and standing against him are St Johnstone chairman Geoff Brown and current incumbent Bill Barr of Ayr United.

Mr Drysdale was the SFL's second division representative for the past season, and will bid to be the first division equivalent if he fails to win the vice-presidency vote.