DUNDEE chief executive Scott Gardiner spoke of his delight earlier tonight as his club sealed a dream SPL return – then revealed how they came within 35 minutes of missing out.
The Dark Blues celebrated getting back to the top-flight following a seven-year exile following the crucial SPL vote which gave them permission to replace newco Rangers. And Gardiner has told how they came so close to squandering the golden opportunity to earn their place back among the big boys on a day of high drama back on 31 March.
Dundee entrusted striker Graham Bayne to deliver their SPL application to Hampden and had to endure a heart-stopping race against time to hand it in at the National Stadium with just minutes to spare before the deadline.
Gardiner said: “We got the application in at 4.25pm just before the SPL closed their doors. If we hadn’t got it in I really don’t know what would have happened. Dunfermline and Falkirk were also after the Club 12 position so it was imperative.
“It was less than £5,000 but that’s still a lot of money to our club. So we took an educated gamble and here we are today. It might turn out to be the best £5,000 we’ve ever spent. It was a really difficult week as we had to put in an application to join the SPL on the week of 31 March.
“I even asked the SPL if it was worth our while doing this because we were so many points behind Ross County in the First Division. Various people within the club were saying it was going to cost this amount of money.
“And it specifically said in the application form that it was just in relation to being the candidate club.”
Gardiner breathed a sigh of relief with the news they were going up after weeks of unbearable speculation.
He said: “It’s the news we were hoping for although it’s not the way we were hoping to feature in the SPL.
“We wanted to go up as champions but since the situation unravelled with Rangers we wanted to make sure it was us taking the Club 12 position. We felt it was an open and shut case all along on the grounds of sporting merit but it’s been intolerable at times.
“Now we can hopefully just concentrate on football from now on and get ready for the new SPL season.”
Gardiner now plans to help fund boss Barry Smith’s efforts to strengthen his squad in time for the big kick-off away to Kilmarnock on 4 August.
He said: “We’ve been working on all aspects of Plan A and B with regards to signing targets.
“But we weren’t able to properly commit because we couldn’t risk signing anyone for the SPL if we weren’t going to get in there.”
Pars considering legal battle
DUNFERMLINE were tonight considering a legal challenge to the SPL’s decision to replace Rangers with Dundee, but look set to accept they will be playing in the First Division in the coming season.
Chairman John Yorkston is furious with the top-flight ruling after repeatedly arguing in recent weeks that, as last season’s relegated team, the Pars should take up the slack left by Rangers’ liquidation and the SFL’s vote to place the newco into the Third Division.
Yorkston’s anger was only exacerbated following leaked emails which emerged at the weekend that appeared to show SFA chief executive Stewart Regan indicating that Dundee should take up the place of ‘club 12’ in the SPL.
That correspondence is said to have taken place three weeks ago, but Dunfermline had tried unsuccessfully until today’s SPL AGM to get an answer on their future.
Yorkston, who was told of the decision – but not the rationale – in a phone call from SPL secretary Iain Blair, was due to meet with his fellow board members at East End Park earlier tonight and a move to ask lawyers to look over the handling of the affair was certain to be high on the agenda.
However, with the start of the SFL season just 11 days away - when the lower league teams kick-off with the Ramsdens Cup - the Fifers chief has confessed overturning the ruling may be implausible.
Instead, Dunfermline could seek redress by way of compensation for the earnings that will be lost from not being in the Premier Division.
Yorkston said: “We are obviously disappointed with the result, because we still feel we should have stayed in the SPL, but we are not surprised after hearing about Mr Regan’s emails.
“It seems this decision had been taken three weeks ago but why did we just find out now? It looks like certain parties got together to make decisions about Dunfermline that they should not have made and we will be taking that up with our lawyers. I have friends who are high up in the legal profession and they say we have a very good case. But it might be that it is too late in the day for an appeal. I wouldn’t imagine that could take place until next week and then we would only be two or three days away from the start of the season.
“It’s not even as if they would definitely rule on it straight away either. It might be that, instead of an appeal, we will seek compensation or go down another route. Had this been May or June we would have probably taken a different view.
“This is me speaking personally and we will come up with a decision on what happens next after the board has met.”