BARRY FERGUSON insists that he will work "day and night" to bring "success at a nationwide level" to Kelty Hearts after their season ended on Friday.

The New Central Park side were knocked out of the Lowland League Cup at the first hurdle at Spartans after a penalty shoot-out, ending their hopes of finishing their maiden season in Scottish football's fifth tier with silverware.

Since taking over from Thomas Courts in October, with last season's East of Scotland League champions top of the table, Ferguson guided Kelty to 12 wins in 22 matches in all competitions, which helped them finish third in the Lowland League behind champions East Kilbride and BSC Glasgow.

Although only six days have passed since their campaign concluded, the former Scotland skipper has already been busy preparing for next season, having agreed pre-contracts with six players so far.

The identities of those incoming players will be revealed in the coming weeks, and Ferguson, speaking to the club's website, commented: "Dean (McKenzie, general manager), myself and Garry (Grandison, secretary) doing the paperwork have been working hard on recruiting to strengthen the squad for the season coming, with most of the business complete, which I'm very happy with.

"It's sure to be an interesting summer.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people behind the scenes at the club, the supporters and also the people in the town for the way my staff and myself have been welcomed into Kelty Hearts.

"It's humbling to be associated with such honest, hard-working people trying their best to achieve. It's a new challenge for me, in a different part of the country to where I live, but I really do feel at my second home when I come off the M90 on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

"You can rest assured the staff, the players and myself are up for the challenge ahead. We are, and will be, working day and night, day-in day-out, to try and bring this club success at a nationwide level for years to come."

The club's general manager, Dean McKenzie, backed Ferguson's sentiments and paid tribute to their supporters, hailing Kelty's average league gate of 384 as "an amazing number for our level".

Although they finished 18 points behind East Kilbride, he said the club were pleased with their final placing, and added: "As we predicted two years ago, the Lowland League will become one of, if not the, best and most competitive divisions in Scotland as ex-senior clubs drop down, and the best east and west, and ex-junior, clubs filter into the league.

"We are delighted with our top-three finish this season and will look to build on that next season to see if we can mount a real title challenge to the very end.

"The gaffer has been busy over the last few months on player recruitment to help us do that. Six players have already been signed on pre-contracts – there might be one or two more to come – but most of our business has been done early, which is very pleasing.

"This work means we won't be involved in any auctions with players, clubs or scrambling around to the end looking for players capable of taking the club forward.

"We need to try and keep raising the bar now that we are competing at national level, and you can be rest assured a hell of a lot of work behind the scenes has been going on, and will continue to go on over the summer, to give us the best chance of doing that."