THE ownership of East End Park remains the biggest stumbling block in Dunfermline’s quest for survival.
The club was placed in interim administration last week and, while current owner Gavin Masterton has indicated that he is willing to enter into an agreement that could see control of the Fife side transferred, there are complications caused by the fact the ground is owned by another company in which he also has the majority shareholding.
It is understood that interested parties are dragging their feet after being informed that they will have to find the funds needed to buy out huge debts which that company owes the Bank of Scotland or, if Masterton retains the deeds, they face the prospect of trying to enter into a long-term lease with the man they blame for taking their club to the brink of extinction.
The reality is that someone will have to do a deal with the Bank of Scotland because effectively the ground is their security on a massive debt and those close to the situation believe it is improbable that Masterton still has the finances needed to pull that off. But the longer he holds out and the uncertainty remains, the closer the club veers towards the precipice.
Interim administrator Bryan Jackson, of PKF, said he could not comment on the stadium situation but admitted that anything which slowed up any takeover process would be seriously detrimental. Having assessed the club’s chances of survival as no better than 50-50 earlier in the week, he said he was marginally less optimistic now that he had had time to assess the situation. He said that, even after the staff cuts, regular injections of cash were still required to keep the club alive.
Jackson, pictured, rammed home that point at Thursday’s Supporters Trust AGM and, again, during a meeting with the Pars Community yesterday. “We had a discussion about the need to pull together. I would like to see all the factions moving in the same direction but that’s not always easy. That is a common problem in football for some reason, maybe that’s the nature of it when there are so many people with a vested interest but if you were to ask groups what is your objective, I think they would all agree it is to save Dunfermline Athletic Football Club yet they all fight and squabble and do not move towards that together. Unfortunately, though, especially in this instance, I don’t have time for them to squabble, I need help, I need money to pay day-to-day costs, I need them to get their offer together, I need them to try and do it fairly and non-conditionally which is sometimes a problem.
“The thing is, in these situations people often want everything to be perfect, to buy the club but with the proviso that they must also own the ground, they must have this or that and so-and-so must not be involved but in these circumstances, to achieve all these things might be very, very difficult.”