DUNFERMLINE manager Jim Jefferies has issued a passionate rallying cry for Pars fans to attend the most important game in the club’s 128-year history on Saturday.
The East End Park outfit have six days to pay arrears of £134,000 to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) after being served with a winding-up order on Tuesday.
The timeframe means Saturday’s First Division clash against Dumbarton could feasibly be the last match ever played by the current incarnation of the Fife institution.
And Jefferies says the stricken club, who took 17,000 fans to Hampden for the Scottish Cup final against Celtic in 2004, need a bumper home crowd this weekend to boost their ailing coffers.
“The place was packed when we played Raith Rovers for promotion in 2010,” said the veteran coach. “This is far more important than that.
“Right now the club’s future is in doubt and I think that is a bigger occasion than anything else, and a real reason to come out and back us.
“The fans that used to come along for the promotion games and cup finals – we need them along against Dumbarton to try and save this club. If we ever want this club to be competing in those type of matches again then we need to band together and save the club.”
Jefferies has welcomed moves towards making Dunfermline, currently labouring under an £8.4 million debt owed to past and present directors, a fan-owned club.
Talks are under way with several local business figures with a view to delivering substantial investment. In exchange, a new supporter-owned model would replace Gavin Masterton’s 94 per cent majority shareholding in the club.
Shares amounting to 50 per cent would be controlled by the club’s largest supporters’ group, Pars Supporters Trust, while the other half would be split between investors, thought to include former directors Craig McWhirter and Ronnie Weymes as well as current sponsors, The Purvis Group.
However any deal hinges on the due diligence process, currently being carried out by accountancy firm Campbell Dallas, showing the model would be viable.
A statement from the steering group charged with rescuing the club, led by Jim Leishman, last night confirmed: “Progress has been made regarding funds being put in place to clear the outstanding HMRC bill. Due diligence has commenced to assist in verifying the long-term sustainability of a fan owned football club.”
Jefferies added: “I don’t think there is any doubt that this is a positive move. We know we are a long way from anything being agreed or settled yet but there are plenty of people working hard behind the scenes to make it happen. Fingers crossed.”
Meanwhile, Dunfermline will discover today if they are to be handed any punishment from the SFA as the club continues the fight for its very existence.
The Pars will face compliance officer Vincent Lunny at Hampden over an alleged breach of Scottish Cup competition rules that relate to their failure to hand over an estimated £7,000 in gate receipts to Hamilton from the 2 February tie.
The Pars also owe Fife neighbours Cowdenbeath £4,500 in ticket revenue, although Cowdenbeath have said they will write off the debt if at least 200 Dunfermline fans attend their forthcoming home match against Livingston.
Lunny has summoned Dunfermline to Hampden for an alleged breach of disciplinary rule 320, “failure to adhere to the Scottish FA’s Cup Competition Rules by failing to pay Hamilton Academical FC the club’s share of the receipts for the above match under Rule 46 (c)(3) and (e) of the said Cup Competition Rules.”