Billy Brown leaves East Fife amid club takeover

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East Fife have parted ways with manager Billy Brown after a consortium led by local businessman Lee Murray agreed a deal to purchase a majority shareholding in the Fife club.

The 62-year-old is set to be replaced by Willie Aitchison, formerly a youth coach at Hearts, with the new regime – who should eventually own over 50 per cent of shares in the club – keen to have their own management team in place.

Brown leaves after just seven months in charge, with the club having narrowly avoided relegation to the Third Division after surviving play-offs against Berwick and Peterhead last month.

“I knew if the takeover went through that I was not going to stay,” said Brown. “It’s nothing against the new owners but, when a new regime comes in, then I think they should have a clean slate. I wish them well and it sounds like they have big plans.

“I did my best for the club, I kept them in the league which, at times, looked like a forlorn hope and it was an experience for me. I’m leaving East Fife in the Second Division, with matches against Rangers and Dunfermline to look forward to, so I am happy to have left that legacy.”

Murray, owner of pub chain Flood Inns, has been appointed managing director of the club. Former East Fife directors Davie Hamilton and Brian McNeill are part of the consortium.

Departing chairman Sid Collumbine, who is currently out of the country, last night professed his love for the club, and hopes the new owners can “live up to all their talk”.

“I have no doubt I will be asked to step down this week but there is not a lot I can do about that,” said the 72-year-old. “I did the best I could and our board worked very hard under me and I cannot praise them enough. We have managed to keep East Fife debt-free and I am very proud of that fact.

“I feel I am leaving the club in a good state. I just hope the incoming group can live up to all the promises and take East Fife forward.”

All the first-team players were out of contract at the end of last season but, amid new investment, a number are expected to return for the new campaign.