Jim Jefferies will work for next to nothing in a bid to guide Dunfermline to safety, insisting there was no way he could abandon his beleaguered players.
The Pars boss, who many believed would be another victim of the brutal cost-cutting which took place at East End Park yesterday, answered the plea of administrator Bryan Jackson to stay in the top job.
Jefferies will take a huge reduction on his already modest salary at the First Division club, admitting to a “sense of responsibility” for the players who have been through hell in recent months.
The 62-year-old will now attempt to navigate the club to the end of the season and avoid relegation, which could become a realistic prospect if a substantial points deduction is handed down by the Scottish Football League as punishment for the Fife club entering administration.
“I told Bryan Jackson I would stay on,” confirmed the former Hearts manager. “I’ve taken a cut, but it’s not about me – it’s about helping the boys who are here.
“I brought a lot of the players. This situation is about Dunfermline Football Club and I feel a sense of responsibility to the club. People have asked me why I have stayed, but the fans and the players have been terrific to me. It’s not right to walk away when the club is going through difficult times. It needs to be done to help the club stay alive.
“We’ll get to the end of the season and see what happens then. Once we get there we’ll know if there’s any time left.”
Jefferies was faced with a media scrum as he emerged from East End Park late last night, clearly having been through the mill during an emotional meeting which lasted several hours.
He described the tortuous summit as “one of the hardest days I’ve ever had”, recalling the deathly silence as eight first-team players and three youth prospects were told they no longer had a job.
Jefferies also revealed that he played no part in decided who stayed or departed, insisting no-one was dispensable in his eyes.
“It’s a very sad day. It’s one of the hardest days I have ever had,” said the morose coach. “When Bryan [Jackson] asked me who I wanted to keep I told him every single one of them. I’ve spoken to the players who have been made redundant and wished them all the best. The process was done on finance; it was purely on that.
“The place was very quiet, it wasn’t nice. Bryan did his best to let them know what was happening and made them know it was down to finance and nothing else. The club doesn’t have any money to pay them – it is simple as that. The money just is not there.”
And those unfortunate players will have no trouble finding a reference as the search for a new employer, with Jefferies effusive in his praise last night. He said: “The players are good enough to play elsewhere and I hope Fraser Wishart can get the dispensation for them to get new clubs. I have told them that if anyone phones me up I’ll be there to give them a reference.
“I will tell clubs how they’ve worked for me. I’ve not had one bad experience with any of them. They are a fantastic bunch of boys, they have showed great professionalism throughout all of this.”
And Jefferies made an impassioned plea for Dunfermline fans to turn out in force for the remaining three home games of the campaign.