JIM Jefferies insists the Scottish Football League were wrong to hit Dunfermline with the points penalty that has plunged them into a nervy relegation play-off and put more jobs on the line.
After struggling for much of the season to make ends meet amid salary delays, seven Pars players were then made redundant when the club was placed into administration back in March.
That sparked action from the game’s authorities, with the SFL deciding to deduct 15 points from the Fifers on 9 April, leaving them just four league matches to try to save their First Division status.
The victory that would have guaranteed safety eluded them at the weekend when they went down 2-1 to Airdrie United and the young side thrown together in recent weeks will now have to negotiate two nerve-jangling ties, starting with this evening’s semi-final first-leg against Forfar, if they are to avoid being relegated to the Second Division.
That fate would inevitably result in yet more job losses and cutbacks, assuming the 128-year institution can be saved from administration under experienced insolvency expert Bryan Jackson.
However, Jefferies is adamant his players did not deserve the double whammy of a points deduction, given the turmoil they had already endured through no fault of their own.
He said: “I’m not saying this because it’s Dunfermline but you just have to face facts. All they’re doing is hurting players and it’s not the players that have put the club in that position. It’s down to how it has been run, maybe over a long period of time, living outside of their means.
“There should be other sanctions against clubs. If it affects clubs in that they don’t survive, then you’re just hitting the players again.
“When you lose a lot of experienced players, you are asking a lot of kids, who are just trying to make their way in the game, to try and save the team. If they fail, invariably they are going to lose their jobs.
“They had earned those 15 points and sometimes I wonder if the people making the decisions understand what it means.
“Certainly, I’m all for clubs who don’t run things right being penalised, but they should look at other ways of making it difficult for them, like transfer embargoes and so on. I’ve got no problem with us having that imposed.”
Unjust though it may be, Jefferies is aware his team must now shrug aside the injustice and ensure they do not suffer on the pitch as well as off it.
He added: “We’ve still got work to do but I just want the players to go and play the way they have been. It doesn’t matter what division they’re in, Forfar have more experienced players than us and we have to deal with that.
“We’ll go and try to win the game and if we do that we’ll make it that wee bit easier at home.
Meanwhile, Dunfermline have been dealt a huge blow with the news that inspirational defender Callum Morris is out of the play-offs after tearing a hamstring on Saturday.
Forfar manager Dick Campbell told his players what his starting eleven would be at training on Monday night in order that they would be mentally prepared.
Campbell explained: “This is a huge game for both clubs and I wanted the players fully focused, so I told them who would be playing at training. I have been through the play-offs before with Partick Thistle and Forfar and I know how thrilling they can be. The key for us from this first game is to ensure that we keep the game alive until we get to East End Park.” The Loons welcome back danger man Gavin Swankie from suspension however Stephen Tulloch, Mick Dunlop, Martyn Fotheringham and Odmar Faero remain out.