Ritchie says Fairies future is bright despite Fraser departure

DESPITE one of the most turbulent weeks in the recent history of Gala Fairydean, chairman Jos Ritchie insists there are exciting times ahead for the Netherdale club.

It kicked off on Saturday with manager Garry Fraser’s decision to quit immediately after watching his team thump Hawick Royal Albert 5-2, citing uncertainty over his role and the proposed takeover of the East of Scotland League side by a consortium including representatives from other senior and junior sides in the town.

Fraser’s departure angered a number of the players, with some threatening to quit the already thin squad, and one member taking to Twitter to call the club a “shambles”.

But Ritchie believes the plans to create an amalgamated club named Gala Fairydean Rovers will provide a boost to the club and football in Galashiels.

Ritchie, who ruled out resigning from his chairman’s role when he spoke to TheSouthern on Tuesday, said: “I think the amalgamation has to happen.

“Gala Rovers and Gala Fairydean need to bury the hatchet and come together.

“All we would be doing is returning to the original name of Gala Fairydean Rovers.

“We would have a first team in the East of Scotland League and a reserve side in the Border Amateur League. The plan is that the first team would then step up to the new Lowland League with the reserves moving to the EoS.

“We are still in discussions with the SFA and I am not sure if it will be in place for next season.

“But I think the move would bring financial strength to football in Galashiels.”

He was positive about a proposed new youth structure, also involving the new consortium, which he believed would be ready for the new season.

Ritchie added: “We want to bring the kids right through the system from the age of six to the first team.

“We want to see more young players from the town playing in Galashiels rather than having to play in Edinburgh.”

Discussions have been ongoing since November, and the continuing uncertainty left Fraser with little option but to resign, according to the 33-year-old.

He left along with assistant coach Jim McLean and physio Alan Trickett.

Speaking to TheSouthern, Fraser said: “It was the structure of the club that was one of the issues.

“I was told I would get a contract in October, yet in March I still did not have one.

“I was never told my budget for next season. You have to be looking for players now for next season, otherwise they will all be signed up elsewhere. But it never happened.

“No-one knows what is happening with the takeover and I didn’t even know if I would be kept on next season.

“I just felt my position was untenable.”

After an emergency meeting on Monday, and clear-the air-talks with the players, the club announced that captain Geri Rossi would take the side for Tuesday’s match with Craigroyston and this Saturday’s tussle with Kelso United.

Coach Davie Gordon was also on the sidelines alongside Rossi on Tuesday as Gala put in a spirited performance in their 1-0 defeat to Craigroyston, hitting the post and bar before John Dunn notched the only goal of the game.

And John Collins and Gareth Evans, who both left Livingston last week, have agreed to take training sessions.

However, the squad’s depleted numbers will be reduced further on Saturday after Rob Hewitson’s last minute sending-off for kicking out at an opponent.