IAN McCALL does not expect the fan ownership dispute at Partick Thistle to affect the team’s performance against Inverness this evening as the Jags manager admitted the row over the club’s future threatens to split the fanbase.

Three Black Cats (3BC), the company owned by the late Colin Weir that holds a 55 per cent stake in the club, announced this week that it intends to gift the shares to the PTFC Trust, a pre-existing body that already holds a stake of around 19 per cent.

Concerns have been raised over the Trust’s governance, engagement and accountability – particularly by The Jags Foundation (TJF), a fans’ group comprised of over 750 members, whose proposal to take on the shares was rejected by 3BC last week - and in a statement earlier this week, PTFC Trust revealed that "drastic" change has been undertaken to address these issues.

For all the distractions taking place off the pitch, though, McCall does not expect the latest developments to affect his players at Firhill tonight.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I genuinely don’t know the ins and outs of it, I’m not really qualified to talk about that. But I certainly worked really hard over the last two or three years to try and bring a fractured club back together.

“I thought we had got there and now this is happening. As I said, I don’t know the ins and outs of it. I think it will make a section of the supporters a bit more critical because they’re angry about various other things. Maybe that’s human nature, I don’t know.

“Listen, I’m used to ups and downs - I came back in [to management] eight years ago and it’s been.... first season we kept Ayr up; second season we won the title; third season we got relegated; fourth season we were in the Premiership play-offs; fifth season we were top of the league and then I came to Thistle. Then we were demoted; the seventh season we won a title; eighth season we got to the Premiership play-offs, so I’m used to a ding-dong way of doing things.”

There was one particular incident, McCall says, that troubled him. A disgruntled supporter wrote to a friend of the Thistle manager, someone who is also a sponsor of the club. The contents of the letter, he says, disappointed him.

“One of the things I have to say, and I won’t mention a name, I’ve got a friend who puts money in and he does it because he’s local and he’s my friend,” McCall said. “I didn’t like as a sponsor getting emails from people, I didn’t think that was right at all no matter what the grievance is and all the stuff that’s going on.

“I got sent it and it wasn’t a particularly nice letter. I don’t know what that’s going to do. That’s all I know about it because this chap is a friend of mine.  I think 98 per cent of Thistle fans would recognise that’s not a decent thing to do.

“I also like to think that every single one of them, on whatever side you’re on, they’re all basically Thistle fans. Whether they’re a season ticket holder or pays in or whether he gets right behind the team or slaughters the team, they’re still Thistle fans.

“Feelings are running a wee bit high and stuff but I’m sure every Thistle fan wants us to win on Friday and wants us to go top of the league.

“The main message is I’m almost certain everyone wants us to put on a really strong performance and win a football match. Ultimately, that’s very, very important.”

In a statement published by TJF last night, the fans’ group claim that they have been forbidden by the club from canvassing supporters on TJF-related matters at tonight’s match. The directors will still be attending as fans and stress that they have no plans whatsoever to stage any form of protest during the match.

“Absolutely not,” said TJF director Andrew Holloway. “Any TJF board members will be there if anyone wants to speak to them – and to watch Thistle beat Inverness, ideally. There is no planned unrest from us.”

McCall added that centre-back Aaron Muirhead and attacking midfielder Cammy Smith remain absent for the Jags for the contest against Billy Dodds’ side, and he expects left winger Scott Tiffoney to play a prominent role after returning to fitness following an injury during pre-season.

“We must remember what Tiffoney was like for two thirds of last season, so he may come back into our thinking,” he observed.

“Big Aaron Muirhead and Cammy Smith are back running but they won’t be available. They might be available for next Saturday.”

This evening’s encounter with Inverness is the first time the two sides have met since the Premiership play-offs at the end of last season, where the Highlanders triumphed over two legs. McCall, however, says that his team will not be motivated by the prospect of revenge.

“No, it’s just a game,” he smiled. “When I first came in three years ago I wanted to bring back a bit of humility to the place and we had our first defeat in seven games last weekend.

“It happens. We have no divine right to win every football match – although I wasn’t happy with some of the things.

“It’s a game against a team I expect to be up in the higher reaches of the league and we want to win it. It’s as simple as that.”