German cash won’t lead to an ‘open cheque book’ at Dunfermline
Dunfermline fans have been warned not to harbour false expectations of “open cheque books” after a German group made “a significant investment” in the East End Park club.
The group – led by former Davis Cup tennis player Damir Keretic and also features Commerzbank director Nick Teller and fellow investors Thomas Meggle and Albrecht Gundermann – now holds a 30 per cent share of the club, with an option to acquire a further 45.1 per cent by May 2022. They then have an option to purchase the company which owns East End Park by May 2024.
After what they claim has been a two-year search for the right club, the group say they were won over by the Dunfermline Athletic values, tradition and heritage, and the fact that their way of doing things tied in with their own.
But, addressing supporters, who he stressed would continue to have an important role, chairman Ross McArthur insisted that while the deal will free up additional capital, the club’s affairs will still be managed prudently. However, he hailed the involvement of the German group – DAFC Fussball GmbH – as “transformative” and added that the extra funding would allow the Fife club to undertake initiatives that he described as “currently beyond their financial reach”.
“It is that lack of investment capital which has restricted the club’s ability to grow and progress in the way we all want,” said the Pars chairman. “The new equity funding will go a long way towards helping the club to achieve these aims. It is intended to supplement, not replace, the fantastic financial support we already receive from our supporters. If the potential of the club is to be fulfilled then the commitment of all of us, both financial and in terms of our time, must remain unchanged.”
He said that when the club came out of administration in 2013, there was a strategy for growth but, seven years on, the task of generating revenue, controlling costs and building up reserves, while at the same time trying to compete successfully, had proved challenging and reaped limited success.
“The last couple of seasons have proved to be a challenging time for DAFC. The last few months have brought challenges none of us have faced in our lifetimes,” said McArthur. “Attracting a capable group of investors with significant business, marketing and football knowledge will be hugely beneficial to our club moving forward. At a time when German football is once again leading the way in Europe, in terms of club football, having the input and expertise of such a highly respected individual in German football as Thomas Meggle, is a real coup for Dunfermline Athletic.”
Meggle is a former player, manager and sports director at Bundesliga 2 side St Pauli and also played for 1860 Munchen and Hansa Rostock and the group’s breadth of expertise in sport, business and finance was a winning formula, according to McArthur.
“The investors will give us access to a scouting network in Germany and wider Europe, which will allow us to differentiate ourselves from other similar sized clubs in Scotland. As football people, they know that every football club has its ups and downs and that you need to take a patient, long-term approach to succeed. They understand the benefits of growing your own talent and selling on at the right time. Their investment will enable us to start planning properly our own Youth Academy structure and securing appropriate training facilities, things we have long wanted to do but which have always been out of our reach.
“In short,” McArthur added, “our expectation is that this cash investment will give Dunfermline Athletic the competitive advantage we have long sought and will allow us to take steps to achieve our long-term ambitions for the club, rather than managing the club on a season-by-season basis.”
The consortium had been poised to move on a bigger initial buy-in until the coronavirus pandemic forced a rethink.
“Our original investment, to acquire 75.1 per cent of the share capital, was scheduled for completion in late March, but the unprecedented situation created by the coronavirus pandemic inevitably put things on hold,” explained Keretic. Although three of the group will join the board with immediate effect, he stressed the importance of hands-on involvement.
“It is important for us to be closely and directly involved – attending board meetings and matches, meeting supporters and sponsors, so the various Covid-19 restrictions on travel meant we felt it better to delay our full investment until we could avoid being absentee owners.”
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