DUNFERMLINE players arrived at East End Park yesterday knowing they were to pose for a team photograph but not knowing if the snap may have captured a team soon to be defunct.
Such fears were allayed with news that the CVA had been approved to allow new owners, Pars United, to begin the process of bringing the League One club out of administration. Neil McCann, assistant to manager Jim Jefferies, admitted that preparations for the season until yesterday had been made with nagging doubts.
“There was genuine concern that pre-season would be irrelevant,” said McCann, speaking at the launch of Sky’s coverage of the Scottish Professional Football League. “It was that bad for the club. I don’t know too much about the ins and outs but there was 75 per cent needed for the CVA to go through. The previous owner Gavin Masterton held a lot of cards there. But I’m just glad it has gone through and the club can start looking forward with the new owners, Pars United. The gaffer was telling all the boys before they went for their team photo that the CVA had been approved so it’s a big step forward.”
It was the second piece of good news received by Dunfermline in the past fortnight after months when such has been in desperately short supply, revealed McCann. “The gaffer got a call ten days ago from Mark Wotte to invite Dunfermline into the under-20s league, which is quite exciting. Being relegated and being in administration last season had a huge impact and the clouds were hanging over the club about the under-20s. It quickly became pretty clear that the club couldn’t continue down that road. They’d already promoted so many kids into the first team but to now have an opportunity at that level is great. When we train we’re carrying 24 and 25 bodies and some of them are 17 years old. But now they can train with the first team but then go and play in the 20s league.”
McCann could be entitled to feel he has the anti-Midas touch when it comes to his services to Scottish football. Dunfermline are the fourth team in his football CV that have suffered an insolvency event, the ex-Scotland winger having made his name with Dundee, moved to Hearts, then enjoyed his most profitable spell with Rangers, before later returning to Tynecastle. In his days down in Gorgie and Govan, despite the dangerous disregard for balancing the books across more than a decade at both, McCann says he could never have believed one would suffer liquidation and the other teeter on the brink of a similar demise.
“It looks pretty grim at Hearts but there is money out there and there are three offers [now two] that we know of. Maybe there’s more money that can be added to one of the offers to try and get the money UBIG are looking for. It’s not nice because we’ve already lost Rangers and to lose another great institution of Scottish football would be a travesty.
“I would never have feared Rangers would go the way they’ve gone, never mind Hearts. At the time I was there, Vladimir Romanov was making all sorts of promises. That season I came to the club I got a bad injury and didn’t play much but I was there and I could see all kinds of positive signs from the club. Every promise that he made looked as though he could follow through – he was putting money into the club, he was talking about splitting the Old Firm – but you don’t foresee the problems they’re in at the minute. Maybe financial experts would have but as a player you don’t really take much to do with that.”
• Sky Sports will show 30 matches from the SPFL and all Scotland’s home internationals