With 2022 now well and truly underway, the Board wanted to provide an update on things at the club.
2021 was undoubtedly a tough year for Morton, both on and off the pitch.
Despite the challenges, 2021 was also an historic year as community ownership became a reality. It is a testament to supporters that Morton Club Together went from being formed, to owning the club within two and a half years. Lots of hard work went in to make community ownership a reality and everyone at the club is committed to building on this and making 2022 a better year.
We enter 2022 determined to look forwards and focus on progressing the whole club.
The Board would like to thank all the hard-working staff at the club for everything they have done during a difficult year with results on the pitch, a change of ownership and of course the pandemic. We would also like to thank everyone who has volunteered their time to help the club.
We were delighted to announce the appointment of Dougie Imrie as our new First Team Manager at the tail end of 2021.
Dougie joined the club from his role as Head of Academy Professional Programmes and First-Team Coach at Livingston.
We would like to place on record our sincere thanks to Livingston FC for the way they conducted themselves throughout the process, and for their cooperation.
Following applications closing, a shortlist was produced by the Board and candidates invited to interviews. Dougie was the standout candidate during the recruitment process, and his vision, ambition and enthusiasm for the club was clear to see.
What was also clear to us in the interview process is that Dougie is both committed and determined to bring success to Morton, both in the short and long term.
We are all delighted to have Dougie on board.
On Saturday, 2022 got off to the best possible start with a 5-0 victory over Dunfermline in Dougie’s first game at Cappielow. The result took us from 10th to 8th, and now gives us the best goal difference in the bottom half.
This was an extremely positive result for everyone at the club, and a great way to get our first win at Cappielow this season.
Every game is important now, and the last two results give us real momentum to take into the next few weeks.
The appointment of Dougie also followed on from the promotion of Chris Ross to the role of CEO. Chris is tasked with driving the club forward on a day-to-day basis, and it is great to have such a capable and energetic individual at the club.
Much of the time recently has been spent dealing with restrictions and making sure games go ahead, but his role will include a wide remit covering all aspects of the club. One of the key focuses will be increasing commercial revenue by improving what we already offer, and introducing new products.
The January transfer window is now open, and the club have this week welcomed new signing Jamie Brandon who has joined on loan from Hearts. We are all looking forward to seeing the impact Jamie has in the second half of the season.
Michael Garrity has also now returned to the club following a successful loan spell at Annan and will be added to Dougie’s attacking options for the rest of the season. He marked his return with an appearance off the bench in Saturday’s 5-0 win.
Midfielder Jaakko Oksanen has now returned to Brentford following his loan spell with the club, and we would like to thank him for his efforts while at Morton and wish him all the best for the future.
Off the pitch, uncertainty remains over the situation with Coronavirus and the Omicron variant. The club have introduced new protocols to try and ensure players, staff and supporters stay as safe as possible. It has been a difficult couple of years with Covid restrictions, and we all have our fingers crossed that better news around the situation will arrive soon.
With the announcement that crowds would be limited to 500 for three weeks, this initially impacted two of our home games – Queen of the South on Boxing Day, and Dunfermline on the 8th January. Originally, the plan had been to offer season ticket holders one game using A-L and M-Z surnames as an even split. With the postponement of the Queen of the South game, this meant the Dunfermline game would be our only home game during the three-week window outlined by the government. As such, we revised the plan and introduced a ballot for this game.
In doing so, we treated the Dunfermline game in isolation. We are fully aware of the risk of the 500 restrictions being extended beyond the three weeks, but at the time that was unclear. Should restrictions continue longer, we will re-evaluate our planning based on the revised situation.
In recent weeks, the club have had to deal with a racial incident which occurred at Cappielow during the Ayr United game in December. As many of you will have seen, the two individuals have now received lifetime bans from Cappielow.
Many supporters came forward with information to identify the culprits and provide more information around the incident and we would like to thank these supporters for doing so. This allowed us to make a complaint to the police and initiate proceedings internally which ultimately resulted in the lifetime ban.
This will hopefully send a clear message that racial abuse has no place in football, or wider society, and will not be tolerated by the club.
While we have had some tough results this season, the victory against Inverness in the Third Round has been one of the highlights. Not only did taking Inverness back to Cappielow mean our special Scottish Cup centenary home kit got an outing in the cup, but progressing was also valuable financially to the club.
We now face familiar opponents in the form of Motherwell in the Fourth Round. Tickets are priced at £15 for adults, £10 for concessions and £5 for under 15s and can be bought online. Full information can be found on here. The hope is that the restrictions will be lifted in time for this game, and we can have a strong travelling support backing the boys in the Scottish Cup 100 years on from winning the trophy.
Late in 2021, Morton Club Together launched a supporter survey and received a tremendous response to this, with over 1000 supporters taking the time to fill it in. This data will be extremely valuable moving forward. Not only will it give valuable insight into the wants of supporters, but it will also provide useful demographic information around our supporter base.
Doing the survey in 2021 will also allow benchmarking to take place and we hope that we will be able to act on the findings and see improved results by the end of 2022.
The final thing we would like to add before closing is a massive thank you to every one of the club’s supporters. Over the past two particularly challenging years, your support has been incredible, and we cannot thank you enough for that. We are determined to have a thriving Morton which all supporters and the wider community can be proud to be a part of.
We are desperate to have full crowds back in Cappielow as soon as possible to back Dougie and the squad as we look to push up the table.
Mon eh Ton!