Thursday 22 March 2018

Dunfermline facing "brutal" round of redundancies after administrators move in

Andy Newport

Dunfermline's playing squad have been told to expect a "brutal" round of redundancies after administrators moved into East End Park.

Accountants PKF were today appointed as interim administrators of the financially-stricken club at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.


But the firm's expert trouble-shooter Bryan Jackson admits the Pars' situation is the worst he has ever encountered in football.


PKF have now taken control of the finances and operations of the Irn-Bru First Division outfit and Jackson will meet with boss Jim Jefferies, his squad and other staff tomorrow afternoon to lay out the painful news detailing just how many of them face losing their jobs.


Jackson, who has acted as administrator for Clyde, Clydebank, Motherwell, Dundee and Portsmouth in the past, told Press Association Sport: "I'll be honest and say this is as bad a situation as I've seen at a football club. It's going to be as challenging as anything I've done in the past.


"What I will be doing now is trying to assess staffing requirements, looking at the cash flow and all the things that are associated with that.


"Hopefully I will be in a position tomorrow to see what type of cuts we need to make. I don't know the level of redundancies we will have to make yet as I haven't seen the information but my gut feel is that it is going to have to be quite brutal as the cash flow is very, very tight. My best guess is that it will affect both playing and non-playing staff.


"We will be looking at possible wage cuts as well as redundancies. But I hope to do it as quickly as I can as I want to take away the uncertainty that is lying there for people."


Dunfermline owe almost almost £8.5million to owner Gavin Masterton and other directors, and were forced to apply for administration to stave off a winding-up order launched by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs over an unpaid £134,000 tax bill.


But the granting of interim administration - with a further hearing on whether full administration will be approved to come on April 11 - at least meant the club could press ahead with plans for tonight's league match against Falkirk at East End Park.


Jackson, who has been appointed interim administration manager alongside colleague Robert Barclay, admits little can be done to save the 128-year-old club unless its supporters continue to turn out in numbers.


He said: "I need the support of everybody connected with the club if it is to survive. If fans don't support the club, then the third parties who have promised to fund it won't either.


"If that doesn't happen then I can't cash-flow Dunfermline and I can't keep it going.


"So I am actually in other people's hands to a great extent. I will do the best that I can but I will need everybody's support."


The administrators revealed during today's Edinburgh court hearing that Masterton hopes to sell off his majority shareholding to an interested buyer, but only once a Creditors' Voluntary Agreement has been struck.


However, the club faces the added threat of swingeing punishments from the Scottish Football League after entering administration.


Dundee were hit with a 25-point deduction when they had to take that route in 2010, while Gretna and Livingston both found themselves relegated two divisions after encountering similar cash woes.


Jackson has pleaded with SFL chiefs to go easy on Dunfermline, fearing harsh penalties could scupper his hopes of finding a buyer for the Fife outfit.


He said: "Unfortunately that is the rules, there will be sanctions. Those are discretionary in the football league and I will be putting forward the case for the club and I just hope the SFL will be kind to us.


"Would it hinder me if the punishment was harsh? Yes it certainly would. If they hit us with very heavy penalties, it affects us in different ways and it may effect us financially, depending on league reconstruction and other matters.


"So I will be down on my knees to the fans and everyone connected with the club asking for their support and I'll be down on my knees to (SFL chief executive) David Longmuir as well to say, 'Please be gentle'."


The Scottish Football League will meet with Jackson over the coming days to gather the necessary information before a decision is taken on possible sanctions.


An SFL spokesman said: "There will be a meeting to get to all the information and the extent of the problems.


"The board will have to consider the whole matter and that involves us getting all the information from the administrator in writing and, no doubt, also inviting him into a board meeting.


"Thereafter, it's up the board to decide whether or not they find a club guilty of conduct contrary to the interests of the league and its member clubs.


"The board have got full power to deal with such matters as it thinks fit, including the power to deduct championship points.


"That includes a club either going in, or seeking to go in, to administration."

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