Dunfermline chairman John Yorkston firmly believes today’s share issue launch will signal salvation for the cash-strapped Fife club and provide a “fresh start” moving into next season.
Majority shareholder Gavin Masterton claims the East End Park outfit, who have debts of around £8 million owed to past and present directors, require £300,000 to survive until the end of the season amid increasing financial concerns.
They hope the scheme, similar to the plan which saw Hearts raise over £1m earlier this term, will bank that amount in the next four weeks, potentially rising to £500,000 if fully subscribed. Shares go on sale today with a minimum spend of £100 for 100 shares, while share issue prospectus’ are being officially sent out.
Yorkston claims he has been enthused by the initial reaction from fans and is confident the 25 per cent stake in the club being made available will be snapped up. “A successful share issue would wipe out the shortfall for the rest of the season and give us something to build on for future stability,” said the 58-year-old.
“We have heard from a lot of fans who have said they will invest and who are enthusiastic about the chance to own a piece of their club.”
Staff at Dunfermline are currently in the midst of a fourth successive month of delayed salaries, while the Pars have also had to contend with arrears to HMRC and ScottishPower, their electricity supplier.
Yorkston added: “We are not underestimating the difficulties of this season but this should give us a fresh start.”
Despite Yorkston’s confidence, Dunfermline face a challenge to unite supporters, with fans’ group The Pars Community (TPC) continuing to push for fan-ownership at the club.
The group, who claim to have funds of around £250,000, aim to wrest control of the club from Masterton and implement a “sustainable, supporter-led ownership model”.
The largest shareholder would be the Pars Supporters Trust with 50 per cent, with other individuals each having no more than ten per cent.
Donald Adamson, of the TPC, insists they are not discouraging fans from investing in the share issue, but do not believe the money will protect the long-term future of the club. “It is up to each individual to make up their own mind. We have no problem with any fan who decides to support the current owner or the share issue,” said Adamson, former head of tax in Scotland for auditing giants KPMG.
“It is not true that we have advised people not to back the share issue, we simply ask people to look at the information available and make up their own minds. However, it is our view that it is better if people put their money to a sustainable long-term future.”