Interim chairman Bob Garmory has told Dunfermline supporters that they will have to pay for the privilege of being the club’s new owners following their exit from administration.
Fans-backed group Pars United was officially handed control of the Fife outfit on Tuesday after a fraught six-month spell under the stewardship of insolvency practitioners BDO.
At a press conference at East End Park yesterday to mark the beginning of a new era, Garmory, of the club’s main sponsors the Purvis Group, has been appointed to a temporary board for the remainder of the current season. The others on the board are club legend Jim Leishman, Margaret Ross of the Pars Supporters’ Trust, Ian Hunter, Kip McBay and Craig McWhirter.
The new board is wasting little time in looking to increase revenue streams and is keen for supporters to play their part as the League 1 club bids to make a top-flight return.
The Foundation of Hearts, the group bidding to take control of administration-hit Hearts, have nearly 8,000 fans signed up to a monthly direct debt plan, and Garmory admits Dunfermline want their own followers to embrace a similar scheme.
“It’s now down to the fans to determine the direction this club travels in,” he said. “In the next nine months, the interim board will try to implement the right structure.
“The Centenary Club have the philosophy of fans paying a monthly contribution to the club. But we want to expand that and make it easier for people to donate bigger sums.
“The Pars Trust now has a membership of 800 yet when it started it was just 200. We need to harness that. It sounds an awful thing to say but, with the fans now owning the football club, they’re going to have to pay for that privilege. But if you own something and it’s yours, you tend to look after it.
“I stayed in a council estate ... and sometimes you see properties which the tenants don’t own and the garden’s a bit unkempt or there’s a fridge in the front and back garden. But when people buy a house, all of a sudden they start to take care of it, they invest in it. It might be the same with Dunfermline fans.
“It’s their club and no-one can blame [former owner] Gavin Masterton any more. They have to believe in this set-up.”
Lifelong fan Garmory is mindful that it was the supporters’ generosity and frenzied fund-raising efforts that actually prevented the Pars from going to the wall during the administration process. The goodwill towards Dunfermline remains as strong, as those with an affinity for the East End Park side continue to lend a hand.
“It’s a great feeling to know I’ve played a part in securing our future,” Garmory said. “But there has been a huge amount of work done by so many people – and all for no recompense whatsoever. There hasn’t been one penny or pound paid to anyone for the work that’s been done here.
“Every single activity carried out in the saving of Dunfermline has been done on a voluntary basis because everyone has the club at heart. We have a local guy, who has his own painting business, coming in on Sunday to completely redecorate the Legends Bar. We have the Paint Shack along the road kindly donating all the paint. So the fans are actually doing the rebuilding, we can’t go wrong really.”
Dunfermline’s 128-year existence was under serious threat as recently as last week when a complex dispute over the lease of the club’s training base at Pitreavie threatened to derail all the hard work done since the Pars plunged into administration in March.
Former player and manager Leishman is thrilled the Pars will be around for future generations to appreciate.
“I’ve been very fortunate because I went to Hampden to see Roy Barry and Alec Edwards lift the Scottish Cup [in 1968] and then, two years later, I was playing alongside one of the greatest players in Dunfermline’s history, Alec Edwards,” he said.
“It was like a daydream for me. I’ve had great memories in football, from going up the leagues to keeping the club up and taking Dunfermline to Hampden.
“The aim of Pars United was to give every Dunfermline fan of the future the chance to share what we have shared; to live those memories in future.
“Two young kids donated £5 of their paper round money to keep their club alive. It’s humbling, it’s tear-jerking because they are the future. These kids deserve to have a club to support and to get the memories that we all have.”
Bryan Jackson, the administrator brought in to take control of the club when Dunfermline admitted they could not pay a £134,000 tax bill and said: “When I was appointed administrator of DAFC in late March I said it was a considerable task to save the club and, given the events of recent weeks, I wasn’t wrong. But it was the devotion and loyalty of the fans, the team, the staff, management and, of course, Pars United which helped get this over the line.
“Given that this has been completed in just over six months... I’d like to congratulate the team at Pars United for their efforts over the last few months and wish them well for the future. I am very pleased that this historic club will live on following the successful completion of this process.”