Raith Rovers: Boss Ian Murray discusses 'very tough' decision to release six players including Keith Watson and Scott McGill

Raith Rovers boss Ian Murray is shaping up his squad for next season (Pic by Rob Casey/SNS Group)Raith Rovers boss Ian Murray is shaping up his squad for next season (Pic by Rob Casey/SNS Group)
Raith Rovers boss Ian Murray is shaping up his squad for next season (Pic by Rob Casey/SNS Group)
One of the toughest parts of being a football manager is undoubtedly telling out of contract players they are no longer wanted at their club, which is what Raith Rovers gaffer Ian Murray has gone through over the past few days.

Kirkcaldy gaffer Murray, 43, didn’t renew the contracts of Keith Watson, Scott McGill, Adam Masson, Aaron Arnott, Ethan Ross or Ross Millen, while Liam Dick and Ross Matthews signed new one-year deals and he remains in discussion with fellow out of contract pair Andrew McNeil and Dylan Corr.

Murray told the Fife Free Press: “Telling guys you don’t want to retain them is one of the hardest parts of my job.

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"I think particularly after the season we had where everybody really contributed.

Keith Watson slides into a tackle in a Raith-Dundee United league game last season (Pic by Mark Scates/SNS Group)Keith Watson slides into a tackle in a Raith-Dundee United league game last season (Pic by Mark Scates/SNS Group)
Keith Watson slides into a tackle in a Raith-Dundee United league game last season (Pic by Mark Scates/SNS Group)

"And I know a couple of the boys were on loan for a period of that, but they still helped us with our training.

"I phoned Keith Watson and spoke to him and the number of injuries he’s had was the reason we’ve let him go, that’s it. It wasn’t nice.

"We have to look at our budget and what we’re getting. It’s not Keith’s fault because injuries happen to footballers and they happen for the team you’re playing.

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“As a guy in the dressing room he’s amazing, I really, really enjoyed working with him.

Midfielder Scott McGill has been released by Raith Rovers (Pic Fife Photo Agency)Midfielder Scott McGill has been released by Raith Rovers (Pic Fife Photo Agency)
Midfielder Scott McGill has been released by Raith Rovers (Pic Fife Photo Agency)

"Keith’s a pretty balanced guy, pretty realistic. We had a good chat on the phone about it and obviously it was disappointing.

"I was disappointed to make that call because probably up until not that long ago I was very much thinking Keith would be part of us.

"But with the injuries he’s had at his age, we had to do the right thing for the football club.

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"We’re not a team with a massive budget that can afford to overspend. We have to be careful with what we’re doing.

"I’ve had a couple of calls about Keith in the last week and in my opinion – and it contradicts what we’ve done – for me he could play at the top end of the Championship, there’s no doubt about it, but you’ve just got to keep him fit.”

Murray said that although releasing players from a squad is a far from easy thing to do, he stressed that it can generally be in their best interests.

He said that former Ross County centre-half Watson, 34, and ex-Hearts midfielder McGill, 22, were both prime examples of that.

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The Raith boss added: "For example, Scott McGill who I’ve signed twice, I wouldn’t sign him if I didn’t think he was a good player.

"But I think it’s really, really important for him at his age to go and play games and I just couldn’t guarantee him that.

"And I know people may see he could come back to bite me and I hope he does because he’s a brilliant guy, really, really good footballer.

"And if we have to go back in two or three years’ time and pay some cash for him then it’s job done.”

Murray is trying to build a squad which can contend to win the Scottish Championship next season, having finished runners-up in the 2023-24 campaign.

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