Jim Leishman: Dunfermline aiming to avoid ‘newco’

DUNFERMLINE Athletic legend Jim Leishman insists the club is not interested in following Rangers and starting as a newco.

Rangers – in its previous form – was liquidated last summer over profound financial issues, with the Glasgow giants subsequently being condemned to Scottish football’s bottom tier.

The stricken Pars, amid severe cashflow problems that have led to crippling wages issues for players and staff dating back to October, face a race against time to survive with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs initiating winding-up proceedings over an unpaid £134,000 bill.

Due to the complicated make-up of the Fife outfit, administration is unlikely to be an option for Dunfermline.

Owner Gavin Masterton – whose assets include the stadium – is owed a large portion of their £8.4 million debts.

Leishman, who is heading a Steering Group charged with trying to safeguard the club’s future, said: “During all the conversations that I have been having, nobody is wanting liquidation. It’s how we get to the point where we can certainly avoid that. None of the Steering Group or The Pars Community [a fans group wanting to take over the club] want liquidation.

“The Pars Supporters Trust and Supporters Direct don’t want liquidation, and everyone has genuine feelings about 
saving the club.”

Accountant Stephen Taylor, who is also part of the working party, said: “Liquidation is not going to benefit anyone, so we have to try and find a pathway through this. I thought liquidation might have been the only option for us on Monday morning but I think progress has been made to steer us towards a supporters-owned club.

“When administrators are appointed they have to look at keeping the business as a going concern and there is no chance of that happening here, so the next step is realise the assets and that’s moving to liquidation.

“We want to avoid that because there are the issues of losing a position in the league and having to be voted back in.

“You’ve heard the support we getting from other Fife clubs, other clubs are going to hurt if we go out of business, so we do feel we would get voted back in if it came to that scenario. Lets avoid that situation and save our club as it is.”

Talks are set to continue this week between Masterton and The Pars Community in the hope of reaching a takeover compromise.

Meanwhile, Raith Rovers chairman Turnbull Hutton insists he is “no Mother Theresa” but believes the survival of 
Dunfermline is pivotal to football in the region.

The Kirkcaldy club have gained widespread plaudits after agreeing to donate a portion of the gate receipts from Saturday’s Fife derby against the Pars to their fierce rivals. Money raised on ticket sales over and above 2,000 in the away section will be handed to Dunfermline.

Hutton says the scheme, dreamt up by director Eric Drysdale, is a “win-win” situation and hopes it will play a small part in aiding the stricken Pars.

“I would hate us to be perceived as the Mother Theresa’s of Scottish football,” laughed Hutton. “In reality, it is a win-win situation if we can get the Dunfermline fans along to support their team, and a few more of ours along to shout at them, then everybody wins.

“We are the last club to be altruistic – every penny is a prisoner in Kirkcaldy. But, if we can come up with an idea that helps us and Dunfermline, then we are happy to do that.”

The other First Division club in the Kingdom, Cowdenbeath, have also agreed to write off a £4,500 debt they are owed if the East End Park outfit can send more than 200 fans to a game at Central Park.

With Dunfermline facing the realistic prospect of being liquidated by the end of the month, Hutton fears for the future of Fife’s biggest derby.

“People have to look at the bigger picture,” continued the Rovers chief. “Like it or not, the big game in Kirkcaldy is Dunfermline. Equally, we take a big crowd along there. It is not a nasty rivalry like our friends in the west. Make no mistake, we will miss Dunfermline immensely if anything happens to them, as they would miss us.”