It also tells us, however, that such a merger will likely be bedevilled by a number of difficulties, impassioned opposition, and bitter recriminations.

Sixteen years have passed since the suggestion first arose to marry Inverness Thistle and Inverness Caledonian to create a new club that would be known as Caledonian Thistle (the Inverness prefix was not added until 1996).

The hope was that this pooling of resources, facilities and shared knowledge would strengthen the case for bringing league football to the highland capital, with the Scottish Football League looking to find two further clubs to bring their numbers up to 40 ahead of the 1994/95 season.

A place was found for the newly-created club from Inverness – as well as Ross County, their former Highland League rivals from up the road in Dingwall – beginning a meteoric rise through the ranks. Within a decade, Caley Thistle had reached the Scottish Premier League, won the Challenge Cup, and threw in two surprise cup wins over Celtic along the way.

In the year leading up to the formation of the new club, though, opposition was ferocious from both sides. Thistle fans felt that the process was becoming increasingly like a Caley takeover, a view given further credence when it was decided the team would play in Caledonian blue and base themselves at Caley’s Telford Park until the new purpose-built stadium was complete.

That rumbling of discontent went on right up until the start of the club’s first season and beyond. In total, the political back and forth would rumble on behind the scenes for three years.

Much of the displeasure was to do with the relative size of the two clubs. Caledonian were the bigger of the two and, as a result, expected to have more of a say in how the new club was organised and run. Thistle were undoubtedly smaller but were determined to be treated as equal partners.

The whole fiery saga was chronicled by local journalist Charles Bannerman in his book, Against All Odds. Bannerman feels that any future amalgamation between Scottish sides could be beset with similar problems if the clubs in question were of disparate sizes.

“That would be a key factor of any future proposed merger,” he told The Herald. “If the clubs were of uneven size then that could pose a few problems. That was a fundamental problem of the Inverness merger. Caley were the bigger of the two and effectively wanted a takeover. Thistle wanted it to be 50/50 and in the end it fell somewhere in the middle.

“I would say the new club was made up of two-thirds Caley and a third Thistle, although there are those who believe Caley contributed 70% of the assets, 80% of the membership, and 90% of the fund-raising capacity.”

What else could we learn from the Inverness model? “To try to get external funding,” Bannerman added. “Say Arbroath and Brechin, for example, were thinking of merging, they would probably need more than just the sum of their joint assets.

“Inverness received around £1.8m of public money and that made a big difference.”

Despite the undoubted success of Inverness, there remains some hardcore fans who feel the union should never have taken place. Bannerman, though, feels the dissenters have become largely an irrelevance.

“They could hold their agms in a phonebox,” he added. “When Caley and Thistle were in the Highland League, between them they were getting crowds of around 600. When ICT were in the SPL, their average gate was about 4000. That tells its own story. Aside from relegation last season, the whole thing has been a huge success.”