DUNFERMLINE Athletic had their administration status confirmed yesterday, but were hit with more potential problems when they were excluded from the Scottish Cup until a debt to Hamilton Academical is paid in full.
The club were placed in interim administration two weeks ago in a bid to avoid a winding-up order over a £134,000 tax bill. The Fife club owe their Irn-Bru First Division rivals the share of the gate receipts from their fifth-round meeting on 2 February at East End Park, which Hamilton won 2-0.
A Scottish Football Association disciplinary panel opted against issuing a fine over their failure to adhere to the rules but they will have to pay the debt in time to begin next season’s competition.
Dunfermline started this season in the fourth round in early December but would be due to enter at the third-round stage a month earlier if they remain in the bottom echelons of the First Division following their 15-point deduction earlier this week.
Earlier in the day, Dunfermline were formally confirmed as being in administration at the Court of Session following an
interim order two weeks ago.
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, whose winding-up order over a £134,000 tax bill prompted the action, could have opposed the measure but the full administration was granted without complaint.
Administrator Bryan Jackson said: “Confirmation of the administration appointment today is welcome news. There remain a number of obstacles for the club in the coming weeks and months but the main issue now is continued funding to ensure DAFC survives until the next season.
“The issues that remain can be resolved if sufficient funds are produced so I would urge Pars United, fans and businesses in the Dunfermline area to dig deep and keep the club afloat
financially over the summer.” Pars United is an amalgamation of several supporters groups and other stakeholders who are bidding to raise enough money to keep the club afloat.
Jackson added: “This has been a very positive 24 hours with the sale of Portsmouth FC, of which I am the joint administrator, to the supporters trust, and now the court agreement for the full administration of DAFC.
“There is still a lot to be done at DAFC and a long way to go but we are now a small step closer to resolving the club’s financial problems.”
Dunfermline manager Jim Jefferies is putting a brave face on the club’s uphill battle against relegation, insisting a fraught fight for survival could attract the bumper crowds required for the cash-strapped Fifers to avoid extinction. The Pars have been plunged into a relegation play-off spot, three points behind Cowdenbeath.
Jefferies is bitterly disappointed to have received the punishment from the SFL, which he maintains is harsh, and concedes his young squad is ill-equipped to handle the rigours of avoiding the drop after seven senior players were made redundant last month.
However, with Cowdenbeath set to visit Dunfermline on 20 April in what is shaping up to be a fierce derby clash, and a final day decider at home to bottom club Airdrie United, the veteran coach hopes the crisis will at least provide a financial boost.
Even finishing in ninth place, and facing a play-off to avoid relegation, could actually help the club, as it would potentially provide another two home matches at the end of the campaign.
“The fans have responded fantastically,” noted Jefferies. “Who would have thought you would get such an impressive crowd against Hamilton [4,697] on Saturday? A turnout like that, and maybe even a wee bit more as the tension rises, is only going to help this club through a difficult period.
“On the field we will do everything we can to ensure this club is not relegated and hopefully everybody keeps doing their bit to make sure this club can get out of administration in a good place. The court could see things are gradually improving and we have a chance, so we were granted full administration yesterday. That is a positive, but we are still in a difficult place and, of course, there is still a lot of work to be done.”
Dunfermline are currently on a run of ten matches without a win entering the final four games of the season. They will travel to Morton tomorrow with their already-decimated squad ravaged by injury and suspension. Josh Falkingham, Andy Geggan and Ryan Wallace are expected to miss out, while Stephen Husband is suspended. It is likely the Pars will field seven teenagers at Cappielow.
“There is no problem with a lack of effort, but these boys need to learn from their mistakes and, unfortunately, they need to learn quickly,” said Jefferies.