January sales loom as Falkirk seek cash injection

Chairman Martin Ritchie is looking for ways to save money
Chairman Martin Ritchie is looking for ways to save money

Falkirk intend to ship first-team stars out of the exit-door in January.

That will inject cash into the club as it did last year when £600,000 from Kallum Higginbotham, Murray Wallace and Scott Arfield turned a £400,000 loss into profit.

Another income boost is needed after it was revealed directors and supporters of the club had loaned the club £80,000 to see it through to January.

Club chairman Martin Ritchie admitted to shareholders on Monday night there has been “good interest” in several of the Bairns assets but the club “won’t be held to ransom.”

On the pitch, the Bairns have struggled for consistency and Saturday’s win over Hamilton propelled the Bairns up to sixth in the Irn-Bru First Division.

“This is not a cop out,” added the club chairman, who also laid out plans for bringing the club’s football base back to The Falkirk Stadium. “We’re doing it because we need to survive.

“We have to get a return on the investment we’ve put into the Academy, and we will continue with that

“We have a long term plan we believe in – and if we can get through the short term we believe we can get to where we want to be.”

That destination would end the reliance on selling players for the club’s survival. The profit garnered last term did not pay off soft loans, but “filled a hole in the balance sheet”.

However, more quick-fire departures are necessary in the short-term to back up this month’s directors’ loan.

Steven Pressley lamented the losses of the likes of Murray Wallace, whose sale to Huddersfield Town 10 months ago kept the Bairns’ balance sheet in the black for the first time in three years.

“We need to move away from the model where supporters see a player emerge from the Academy for six months and are then moved on,” he told the AGM.

“I want to build a young team capable, not just of winning the SFL, but challenging at the top end of the SPL.

“We must move away from the model of selling players before they are ready - I would hope if someone was to move on in January, and I say if, that it will be the last sale enforced upon me.” he told The Falkirk Herald. “I want to build a team and for supporters to see the products of the Academy for three or four years before they are sold on. That’s the aim.”

However he did admit a network of agents are spreading the word of the Bairns’ talents south of the border.

“You saw two of our players - Jay Fulton and Craig Sibbald - training with Manchester United in the summer.

“When going was good last year we didn’t have any more room for the scouts from big Premiership teams, coming to The Falkirk Stadium.

“The foundations have been set in the Academy structure at the club, in recent weeks we have seen a foundation form in the first team.”