Raith boss confident he can deliver promotion at second attempt

Stark's Park - Kirkcaldy - Fife - 'Raith v Alloa -  Raith manager Barry Smith at full time - 'credit- Fife Photo Agency
Stark's Park - Kirkcaldy - Fife - 'Raith v Alloa - Raith manager Barry Smith at full time - 'credit- Fife Photo Agency

Raith Rovers boss Barry Smith is confident that he can deliver promotion to the Championship at the second attempt after receiving the backing of the board.

Smith, who has a year left on his contract, was given the vote of confidence at a meeting with majority shareholder John Sim on Tuesday, with the club also confirming its intention to remain full-time in League One next season.

Rovers have also appointed a new chairman with director Bill Clark, who joined the board last year after making a significant investment in the club, taking over the reins from Alan Young, who tendered his resignation following Saturday’s play-off defeat to Alloa Athletic.

Raith narrowly missed out on the League One title in Smith’s first season in charge, finishing just a point behind champions Ayr United after a goalless draw at home to Alloa on the final day of the campaign allowed their rivals to pip them at the post.

That disappointment, in front of an expectant crowd of over 4400 at Stark’s Park, was followed by an abject performance in the Championship play-off semi-final, where Raith went down to a 4-1 aggregate defeat to part-timers, Alloa.

However, while failing in his remit to deliver promotion at the first attempt, Smith guided the club to 75 points – a total which would have won the league in any other season in recent history – while also completing an entire league campaign undefeated at home.

He believes he is the right man to lead the team back to the Championship.

“I’m glad the board has taken the decision that the club needs stability, and that they recognise the job I’ve done, albeit without promotion,” he told the Press.

“I’m still confident for next season. If you look at the second place points tally over many years, it would have been enough to win the league. Unfortunately for us, it didn’t work that way.

“We would look to get more points next year just to make sure.

“Everybody’s hurting at the moment - myself more than anyone - but it’s about getting over that quickly and making sure that from day one of preseason the focus is fully on promotion.

“We’re a club so we need everybody pulling in some direction to help us get the promotion that we all want.”

Smith will now begin the task of rebuilding his squad for a second assault on the League One championship with only Dave McKay, Ross Matthews, Lewis Vaughan and Liam Buchanan thought to be under contract for next season.

“There are certain players that I think need a change and will move on for their own good,” he said.

“There are a core of players we’d like to keep but that will be determined by what we can offer, and whether they’ve got offers from elsewhere.”

Smith also confirmed that the process of bringing new players to the club has already started, with East Fife striker Chris Duggan, who bagged 15 goals last term, believed to be among his targets.

“We’ve been looking at players since January and some are still available to us,” he said. “The quicker we can speak to them and offer a package, the better.

“It’s a big thing staying full-time.

“It should enable us to attract the type of players we want to bring to Raith to give us every opportunity to win promotion.”