IT IS the Fife version of Band Aid and, though Bob Garmory stopped short of banging the table and replicating the expletive-filled performance from another, more famous Bob, the member of the new Pars United group was equally blunt.
If you are a Dunfermline fan and have plans this Saturday, then cancel them. Your club needs you to be at East End Park for the First Division fixture with Hamilton Academical.
The ‘Save the Pars’ gig the following weekend might be more up Bob Geldof’s street, as the long-renowned Dunfermline music community rallies around the stricken local football team. Six bands, including headliners the Draymin, have already signed up for benefit gigs over two nights at PJ Molloys bar. “The Draymin boys phoned on Saturday night and said they want to come and play a gig to help the cause,” explained Jim Leishman, the former Dunfermline manager and honorary director. The events hope to add £6000 to club funds.
Garmory, who is chairman of shirt sponsors the Purvis Group, grew up next door to Leishman, who was next to him to again yesterday. The pair sought to emphasise that differences between disparate supporter groups have been set aside for the common good.
Pars United is an inclusive group of all supporters, one existing solely to secure Dunfermline Athletic’s future, they explained. “Together we stand, divided we fail,” is the motto of the collective group, which was formed at a meeting at East End Park on Monday. The first task is persuading lapsed fans to get along to the game on Saturday.
“We need to get 5,000 people in, minimum,” said Garmory. “It’s really sinking in now,” added Leishman. Dunfermline were placed in interim administration last week, with debts totalling nearly £10 million.
Garmory revealed that PKF, the interim administrators, have funds of up to £100,000 to ensure that the club survives at least until the end of the season, meaning the Dunfermline Under 20 side will be able to fulfil a much-anticipated Youth Cup final fixture against Celtic on 2 May. Dunfermline also have five more first-team fixtures, three of which are at East End Park.
Both Leishman and Garmory are desperate for a larger turn-out than watched the side’s last home fixture, against Falkirk. On the day after the club went into interim administration, only 2879 came in though the turnstiles, a few hundred of whom were away supporters.
“This is not a happy time,” said Garmory. “We need a bumper turn-out on Saturday. The more money we get through people turning up, the better our chances of survival. If you’re a Dunfermline fan with something else to do on Saturday, cancel it. We need you on board now. There are no ifs, ands or buts.”
Leishman recalled returning as manager on another occasion when the club were in dire straits, although the problems were mostly football-related then. In 2005, and facing relegation from the Scottish Premier League, Dunfermline sacked David Hay and brought back Leishman, with three matches left to play. He led them to safety after back-to-back victories over Dundee and Dundee United. “We came out to play Dundee in front of 8500,” recalled Leishman. “What a lift that gives to the players. We need that on Saturday,” he added. He pointed out that following the raft of player redundancies announced last week, the average age of the Dunfermline team who earned a late draw with Livingston at the weekend was just 20.
“These youngsters need [support]. This is the worst time that I can remember at this club. But people are coming out, saying: ‘I am a Dunfermline supporter – we are the Dunfermline family’.”
“Bobby is 100 per cent right – if you’ve got something you can cancel, cancel it. And that goes for all three home games between now and the end of the season.”
As well as every penny, every point could soon become a prisoner for Dunfermline. The club are waiting to learn their fate as the Scottish Football League prepares to meet to discuss the issue of a points deduction. They have been given no indication as to the likely amount, with 23 points currently separating Dunfermline from bottom club Airdrie United. The last First Division to team to go into administration were Dundee, who were handed a 25 point penalty. It was, though, the Dens Park club’s second spell in administration.
“I have spoken to [SFL chief executive] David Longmuir and [president] Jim Ballantyne to let them know our position,” said Leishman. “There are rules and we have to abide by them and take our punishment. We’re not looking for a sympathy vote. And that’s why Saturday is crucial again. I know we have wee cushion at the moment, but that might change.”
Gavin Masterton, the majority shareholder whose management of the club has been criticised as being too cavalier, remains a central figure in the recovery process, since his family is owed the majority of the debt. Asked whether he will be among the hoped-for crowd of 5000 on Saturday, Garmory said: “I hope so. He’s put a significant amount of financial resources into the club over the years. I know he’s seen as the villain of the piece for what he has done. He’s mismanaged the club in certain ways.
“However, you can’t forget that a lot of what we see around us has arisen because of Gavin’s involvement, but if he comes along on Saturday, he’ll just be part of the crowd.”