Tommy Wright has welcomed Inverness’s “pay what you can” initiative for St Johnstone’s visit tonight, but the Perth club’s manager questioned the sense in scheduling a midweek fixture for the depths of winter.
The Highlanders are the first top-flight club in Scottish football to ask fans to set their own prices, following the lead of League 2 outfit Albion Rovers, who were the first to trial the scheme last season. However, as much of Scotland freezes, the McDiarmid Park boss asked why the game could not have been played when the weather was likely to be more favourable.
“All clubs are trying things,” said Wright. “Clubs at this time of the season are trying to sell half-season books and stuff like that. But I think the fixture list could be looked at. I don’t think having midweek games in the middle of January is the best time. We used to have a midweek game in the spring.
“If we are going to have midweek games why not have them in August or September and into the end of March and April. To have fans travelling in January, no matter where it is to – a wee bit of common sense should be used. But I hope there is a good take-up. It is a great initiative.
“Albion Rovers tried it and were quite successful so it might be something that they can take advantage of.”
St Johnstone are in sixth place in the table with 32 points despite being the league’s third lowest scorers with 19 goals.
Wright insists his side have found a new way to pick up the points following the departure of striker Stevie May, who signed for Sheffield Wednesday in the summer after notching 27 goals for the Saints last season.
The Northern Irishman said: “The loss of Stevie May is a big loss but there not many teams who can score 19 goals and still be in the top six. We have found a way to deal with it. We have ten wins and we only had 14 wins before the split last year so our points total is higher than at this stage.
“We have found a different way to do it. We have been even tighter at the back this season and to score 19 goals and be in top six shows how good we can be.”
Inverness boss John Hughes, meanwhile, has admitted he can only get away with his “stylish” tactics so long as results are keeping the Caley Thistle faithful happy.
Hughes’ strict philosophy insists the Highlanders keep the ball on the deck, even when the fans are calling for it to be lumped forward.
So far, dissenting voices have been few and far between as Inverness continue to keep pace with the Scottish Premiership’s top sides.
Caley Thistle currently sit joint third and could move to within three points of leaders Aberdeen if they beat St Johnstone tonight.
Hughes said: “I think entertainment is passing football. It’s self-explanatory – foot to ball, pass it. That’s what my ethos is. When you are a footballer you need to pass the ball to your team-mate. That’s what you get paid to do. We have changed our style of play to be more like that and the fans have really bought into it. It only works if you have the belief of your fans. That’s why our fans are unique.
“Not every club’s supporters will accept that. A lot of clubs want to see the ball booted forward so they can get it into the box quickly. We are playing a more stylish and patient game but we are getting our rewards for it. I suppose it’s only decent results that will allow you to continue to play that way – but all credit to the supporters for buying into it.
“The boys love playing that way and when you see it at its best, you can tell that it doesn’t happen overnight. There’s a lot of hard work goes in on the training pitch and that’s why the supporters appreciate what we are trying to do.”
Giving his own view on the pricing initiative, a supportive Hughes said: “I’m a great believer that once a kid comes to a game and gets the bug, they will want to come all the time.
“That’s what we are trying to do with this incentive – to make sure these young ones’ first game of football is a great experience.
“And then who knows, they still might be here when they are 65.”