New Edinburgh City chairman Jim Brown was angry that his club did not have the chance to go up against Hearts or Hibs in the Betfred Cup.
The SPFL announced the seedings and north\south split for the group stage draw of the competition last Friday. A quirk of those seedings and geographical split placed City the in southern section of the draw, with their more illustrious Capital neighbours in the north.
While City will face Motherwell from the top flight, that a group containing all three Edinburgh clubs wasn’t a possibility has come as disappointment. “Unbelievable”, was Brown’s reaction in his first interview as chairman. “Edinburgh City doesn’t have a history of getting good draws in the cup against big teams, but we thought we could this time with Hearts and Hibs both being in it. The three of us are in the same city, yet one of us is in the south and the other in the north section – what’s that about?
“We hadn’t budgeted for it, we’ve budgeted for more or less the same as last season. There won’t be a big payday with Hearts or Hibs, in the Betfred Cup anyway, but we’ll keep plugging away with what we were doing beforehand and we’ll take who we get in the draw.”
There’s plenty more to think about besides, with City in the process of strengthening after a successful first ever season in the SPFL. As part of that, Brown took over from previous incumbent Jim Lumsden last week, who will remain on the board. With Brown’s previous business experience and financial acumen, taking over the chairmanship was the logical step.
“I initially came in to do the financial side of things and help with signings and negotiating with players,” he explained. “It was just a natural progression that when we got to the AGM they asked if I would become chairman.
“I’m honoured to to take the position but it’s a hard act to follow in Jim Lumsden. He’s guided the club through two Lowland League championships to SPFL League Two. Now that we’ve consolidated, the rest of the plan has to be put in place and hopefully I’ll be able to do that with the people round about me.
“I’d worked closely with Gary [Jardine, manager] when I was with the Under 20s so we’re on the same wavelength when it comes to the playing side. Moving forward we have a five year plan which the first part of was to consolidate in League Two, so now we move on.
“There’s not going to be any major changes although there’s been lot of work gone in to moving to Ainslie Park. It’s exciting times for the club and hopefully we can consolidate where we are and then go even further, move forward and get ourselves up the league a bit.”
That continuity will be mirrored on the pitch after new captain Josh Walker, Craig Beattie, Marc Laird and Calum Antell all signed on. “For Josh to sign for another two years is great for us, because it means he can see the vision that we’ve got, where we’re hoping to go and what we’re hoping to do being the third club in Edinburgh,” said Brown. “Craig Beattie, Calum and Marc too have bought in to it – [sporting director] Jim Jefferies as well, and that’s made a massive difference.
“It was important to keep the heart of the team together. Some guys will be moving on because they really want to play every week and that can’t be guaranteed. We’ll be looking to bring more experienced players in to the squad and the fact that we’ve got Beats, Josh and Marc signed up makes it easier. Josh and Marc had teams sniffing about them so the fact that they’re happy to stay is great.”
Having the vast experience and contacts of Jefferies as sporting director will also give City extra weight when it comes to recruitment. “Jim knowing people within the game, we’re getting the heads up on players getting released,” Brown explained. “Even players we’re not sure about, Jim can phone the manager. Before, they wouldn’t return calls because they didn’t know Jim Brown, they didn’t really know Gary Jardine. If Jim Jefferies calls, it’s a bit different and it opens a lot more doors for us. With his experience, when he’s speaking to player, they know we mean business.”
City proving their worth on the pitch as a league club should also assist. “Last season when we were talking to players, they didn’t want to commit as they didn’t know if we’d stay up,” recalled Brown. “It won’t make it easier to sign them now, but it will be easier talk to them and they’ll take us a bit more seriously.
“Location is another draw, even for a couple of players we’ve spoken to already. We train at half eight on a Tuesday and a Thursday at Oriam, which is a great training facility. It means for the Edinburgh boys if they’ve got young families, they can go home, see the kids and get them to bed and then they’re free to train after that. It means they’re not travelling up to Angus and places like that – they’re playing and training on their doorstep. There’s been a few that have said that interests them.”