Raith begin summer revamp – on and off the park

Stark's Park - Kirkcaldy - Fife - 'Grass removed from pitch - 'credit- Fife Photo Agency
Stark's Park - Kirkcaldy - Fife - 'Grass removed from pitch - 'credit- Fife Photo Agency

There are plenty changes afoot at Raith Rovers this summer, both on and off the park.

Work to install a new artificial surface started this week with the old grass pitch getting dug up in preparation for the contractors moving in.

The race is on to complete the £700,000 project in time for the start of the season, meanwhile, manager Barry Smith will revamp his squad after releasing a total of 12 players this week.

Only four players - Dave McKay, Ross Matthews, Lewis Vaughan and Liam Buchanan - remained under contract for next season, although defenders Euan Murray and Iain Davidson have agreed extensions.

Murray has put put pen to paper on a two-year deal while Davidson returns for a 12th season at the club after recently surprassing 400 appearances.

Terms have also been offered to Kyle Benedictus, Jason Thomson and Scott Robertson, although the club is believed to have stiff competition for their signatures.

Among the confirmed departures are both goalkeepers – Aaron Lennox and Graeme Smith – while also leaving are Bobby Barr, Jonny Court, Greig Spence, John Herron, Willis Furtado, Yaw Osei, Andreas Thorsen and Kevin McHattie.

Regan Hendry (Celtic) and Dario Zanatta (Hearts) have both returned to their parent clubs.

Smith explained: “With the players under contract, and the ones we’ve made offers to, we’re hoping we’ll still have a core of the team from last season.

“A lot of the ones who weren’t retained didn’t play a lot of games last season through injury, and when running a small squad, we couldn’t take the risk.

“Some we just couldn’t afford to keep.

“But if everyone signs, we’ll have a good core of the team that did well last season.”

With five defenders among those either retained or offered contracts, the majority of the rebuilding will take place in the forward positions.

“The team did well as a whole, but our defensive record was the second best in the country behind Celtic,” Smith said.

“It was a strength and that’s why we’re hoping to keep the majority of the defence.

“But some of them have got offers elsewhere and it could come down to money.

“We’ll do the best we can with the finances we’ve got, but they’ll have to do what’s best for them and their families.”

Smith confirmed he is in talks with a number of signing targets.

But with players either currently on holiday, or taking time to weigh up their options, there is nothing concrete as yet.

Out-of-contract East Fife striker Chris Duggan is on his wish list, however he has gone back to his home in Australia for three weeks, so no quick decision is likely.

The Press has also picked up on rumours that a goalkeeper with a family connection is on the club’s radar.