John Hughes set to leave Inverness CT over budget feud

John Hughes is on his way out of Inverness. Picture: SNS

John Hughes is on his way out of Inverness. Picture: SNS

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John Hughes looks set to leave Inverness after lingering tension over his budget came to a head.

Caley Thistle are expected to announce their manager’s departure once a severance package is agreed.

Hughes signed a new contract on December 1, which committed his future to the Ladbrokes Premiership club until the summer of 2018, less than two months after Inverness refused Dundee United permission to speak to their boss.

But relations between the former Hibernian manager and his board have become strained in recent months.

After midfield pair Danny Williams and James Vincent rejected extensions and signed pre-contract deals with Dundee in March, Hughes claimed his budget for next season would be in the “bottom two in the league”.

Hughes spent much of the season asking for help from his board amid an ongoing injury crisis which saw him without a full team of players at one stage.

But the board released a statement in April stressing that “it is the responsibility of the management team to replace them and the board have provided the finances required this season to enable this”.

Their statement added: “After winning the Scottish Cup and qualifying for Europe, this season has seen the club’s largest-ever playing budget. The cost of a 25-strong first-team pool was far in excess of anything we have experienced at the club, but it was deemed necessary under the circumstances.”

In the final weeks of the campaign, Hughes consistently asked for help from the club in securing new contracts for his players, last week stating that his priority was to extend Greg Tansey’s deal beyond next summer and tie up loan player Miles Storey, their top goalscorer this season.

After losing the likes of Graeme Shinnie, Marley Watkins, Ryan Christie, Billy McKay and Edward Ofere over the past 18 months - all but one of whom ended up at Premiership rivals - Hughes claimed the fans were being short-changed.

He said last week: “As a manager I think I have a right to fight my corner and make sure we can bring the best players to the club.

“I’m honest enough to say, over the last two years, we have lost too many good players and I don’t think we have really replaced them with the quality the supporters deserve.”

However, Aberdeen beat Inverness to the signing of Storey from Swindon on Tuesday, adding to Hughes’ frustration despite securing Aaron Doran, Lewis Horner and Alex Fisher on new contracts.

A club statement read: “Due to Miles Storey’s age and the transfer regulations we were unable to speak, or make an offer, to him until very recently. The club made the best offer we could, but Miles has decided that his future lies elsewhere.”

Inverness have made contract offers to midfielder Iain Vigurs and goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams while they have been negotiating pre-contract deals with two players, but the Highland club now appear to be entering a spell of uncertainty.

Hughes led Inverness to fifth, third and seventh-placed finishes in the Premiership and guided them to their first piece of major silverware last season, a year after they lost to Aberdeen in the League Cup final.

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