FIFE COUNCIL were not involved in the discussions for Inverness Caledonian Thistle to use Kelty Hearts' New Central Park as a training ground - despite owning the pitch.

On Friday, both clubs, who will be rivals in SPFL League One next season, announced that as part of an "innovative agreement" the Highlanders will base themselves 135 miles away from their home stadium during the week.

Kelty said that the Caley Jags, who were relegated from the Championship, will hire their facilities, including the artificial surface, on-site grass pitches, and offices for their coaching staff.

In 2015, a synthetic pitch was installed at New Central Park as part of the £7.3 million Kelty Community Centre project, and the council's community manager, Sarah Roxburgh, confirmed that the local authority owns the pitch and they "had not been involved in the partnership plans" between the football clubs.

READ MORE: Kelty welcome 'innovative' Inverness agreement as Caley fans fume

She said: "We understand discussions between the two clubs are still ongoing.

"On behalf of Fife Council, we’ll need to be involved to review current booking terms and conditions as well as weigh up the impact that this may have on the availability of the community pitch to other users with any potential benefits."

In announcing the agreement, Kelty said: "This creative partnership will see Inverness Caledonian Thistle hire the New Central Park facilities, which include a 3G pitch, on-site grass pitches and offices for their coaching staff, as a training base during the week.

"When the two clubs originally started exploring this concept, Inverness were still playing in the Championship. However next season will see them also playing League One football, but it still makes sense for both clubs to forge ahead with this unique partnership."

Inverness said that it was "one major part" of a "planned strategic restructure", and that "geographic challenges in getting players to move to the Highlands" was part of their thinking.

However, the proposal has sparked an angry backlash amongst their supporters, with the Inverness CT Supporters Trust holding an open meeting on Tuesday night and launching a petition against the move.

They said the plan "rips the soul of the club out of the community" and that "the bizarre decision to move ICTFC’s training base to Fife has proved that those at the top of the football club are completely and utterly disengaged with the fanbase".

Inverness, in a lengthy statement, said: "The last few years have seen the geographic challenges in getting players to move to the Highlands become ever harder for a number of reasons.

"Caledonian Stadium will always be our home, but other factors in Scottish football have changed and where we train should not be an impediment to the quality of the players we can attract to Caley Thistle, or to our potential to progress."

Inverness dropped out of the Championship after finishing ninth and losing in the play-offs to Hamilton, who were promoted.

They will meet Kelty in the third tier of Scottish football, where Michael Tidser's team will play for a third successive season, having ended the campaign in their highest league placing of sixth.

The clubs have met once before in a competitive match, in July 2022, when Inverness won a League Cup group stage tie 1-0 at New Central Park.