DAFC Board StatementThursday, 30th Apr 2015
The Board of Directors of Dunfermline Athletic Football Club are making this lengthy statement as an update report on our club’s affairs, as part of our policy of communicating with all stakeholders in an open and transparent manner.
Update on Managerial Position
In December, the Board agreed with Jim Jefferies that he would step down from the Manager’s role, as we had not achieved our agreed objectives at that time and he felt he had taken the team as far as he could, but we were contractually obliged to continue to pay Jim until the end of the season.
John Potter was being groomed as Jim’s natural successor, and agreed to take on responsibility for first team affairs, with no increase in remuneration, until the end of the season, at which point the Board would review the position again. Despite putting his heart and soul into the role, it has unfortunately not worked out for John in the way we had all hoped. The Board has been forced to the conclusion that changes need to be made. As has been said many times, football is a results based business - that is the harsh reality.
John will therefore return to his contracted role as Head Coach next season. The Board would like publicly to thank John for his hard work and selfless approach to everything that he has done. John is a valued member of our staff and contributes so much to our club in so many different ways. We must also put on record our condemnation of the personal abuse to which John and his family have been subject in recent months, from a small, but vocal, minority of fans. That has been unacceptable behaviour and it reflects very badly on our club.
In addition, and in view of the change of Manager, Neil McCann decided it would be best for both parties if he moved on. We would also like to put on record our thanks to Neil for his considerable efforts and support of the club over the last three years, especially given that, for some of that period, he received no payment for his services. We wish Neil every success in the future.
John and Neil were both highly professional in their approach. They are bright, articulate, hard-working coaches, who were amenable to everything the Board requested.
As a “football club” we have, off the park, come a long way in a short time. On the park, however, the lack of progress has been deeply disappointing, and now needs overhauled.
As a Board we accept that not every Pars fan either buys into, or even cares about, the benefits of our being a community owned club; what they do care about is progress and success on the park. There is an expectation level at our club that needs to be met, at times this season the team have clearly not risen to the challenge.
The process of looking for a new Manager starts now and we will immediately advertise for applications in the hope of making an appointment within three to four weeks, thereby providing the new Manager as much time as possible to prepare for next season. We believe that it is very important that the new Manager should have experience of having successfully operated in the SPFL lower leagues.
The recruitment of the right manager and in turn the right types of player is now critical.
Managerial applications are requested in writing, along with CV, to firstname.lastname@example.org. The closing date for applications is 10 May 2015.
Overview of Season 2014-15
Promotion to the Championship was the primary objective at the start of the season, to ensure we can then develop a sustainable platform for our club for future generations. In addition, an agreed, secondary objective was to participate in two games in the Challenge Cup and League Cup and three games in the Scottish Cup.
In the light of those objectives, the Board has to acknowledge openly that this current season’s performance has been wholly unacceptable. It has simply not been good enough, taking into account the resources at our disposal compared to those of other clubs in our division. We, like every other club in this division, have no divine right to win this league, as our competitors are all very well run clubs, but this season has been hugely disappointing for everyone associated with DAFC.
The Board recognised that only by returning to the Championship could DAFC remain as a full time football club on anything other than a short term basis. So, substantial investments were made in the playing pool at the start of the season at the request of the manager to increase our chance of success. Ten players, who had formed the nucleus of the squad in the 2013-14 Season, were given contract extensions. Three players, who were proven in this division, were acquired from rivals. The Under-20 team was entered into the elite Development League. The club took on a leading role in founding and financing the Fife Elite Football Academy.
It is extremely difficult to put our finger on why the team did not succeed. Was it a hangover from the Cowdenbeath play-off game or, could some players not handle the sheer weight of expectation that comes from being at this club?
The Board are all, first and foremost, fans who are as frustrated as everyone else. We believe we made the right decisions at the time but accept that we are ultimately accountable for such a poor season.
Moving forward, we will continue to operate next season with a core of full time first team players, with potentially some part time players, although the practicalities of this will be discussed with the new Manager. The intention would be to operate with a reduced squad next season of 18-20 first team players (plus eight Under 19 players), but crucially with a core of players who know what is required in this league.
At present, we have ten first team players under contract into next season (Michael Moffatt; Andrew Geggan; Ryan Wallace; Josh Falkingham; Faissal El Bakhtaoui; Shaun Byrne; David Hopkirk; Ryan Williamson; Lewis Martin; and Lewis Spence) and a further five Under 19 players.
As we stated last close season, a further trading loss is expected to be incurred this season (y/e 31st May) in SPFL League One which would further diminish, but not wipe out, our retained capital.
We lost out on a budgeted third Scottish Cup tie, which as it turned out would have increased our income by £100,000. As a result of our disappointing league finish, we will lose out on £50,000 of budgeted income from the football authorities. Furthermore, £50,000 has been spent on legal fees trying to extricate our club from the lease at Pitreavie. However, the success of the Centenary Club Lifeline, the continuing support of the fans at the gate and better than expected commercial and hospitality income mean that we anticipate a trading loss (before depreciation) this season in the region of £250,000; more or less in line with our budget.
It is now clear that the significant investment which was made in the playing squad this season to try to ensure promotion has not paid off. Clearly, our club simply cannot afford to invest in the playing squad at the same level next season.
We expect to finish this season with a six figure sum in our holding company, Pars United CIC, but we now need to manage what we have and not speculate as our club has no further means of borrowing or raising capital other than through new equity or donations. We must get as close as possible to a break even trading position.
The Board has finalised next season’s budget and we need to reduce costs further, while collectively as a support continuing to work very hard to bring in the income we need to survive in the third tier of Scottish football for another season.
The new Board has had a full trading year running the club, and a better picture has now emerged of the costs involved in maintaining a full-time club and a Premier League stadium. Even after making savage cost reductions, the club still faces annual costs associated with the stadium of £250,000 (covering rent, rates, utilities, stadium maintenance, pitch maintenance, safety certificate and labour) and administration costs of £120,000.
So, further cuts still need to be made. But, this will be very difficult given that a lot of the core costs have already been cut to the bone. Our club operates with only 5 full time non-playing staff, backed up by a voluntary board of directors and a further voluntary team of dedicated supporters and tradesmen as well as loyal and supportive sponsors. Further cost savings in the region of £50,000 are being targeted, however, our club now conducts its business in an honourable way; paying its employees and its suppliers in full and on time.
We clearly need your help
The Board will continue to work tirelessly in their available time, to keep our beloved club alive, to reduce costs and try to raise income through innovative marketing and sponsorship.
As DAFC is now a widely owned community club, it clearly needs the support of the community more than ever next season. It is the collective responsibility of us all to work together so that our club is here for future generations. The future of this great football club is ultimately in the hands of its own supporters as it has been since we came out of administration.
Therefore, we need the full support of the fan base to keep our club afloat. This season has been desperately disappointing for everyone, including the board, but we urge supporters not to turn their backs on our club – a community club can only operate if the community and fan base supports it through thick and thin.
Despite the performances and results our home attendances have been fantastic - testimony to the loyalty and passion of our wonderful fans. The average attendance at East End Park has been 2,700 which is still the envy of many other clubs.
We are all too aware that the wider fan base has contributed so much in recent months and we would like to pass on our sincere thanks to the core support of the Club for their loyalty, backing and financial contribution during these difficult times.
We no longer rely on bucket collections or cash donations, but the three key areas where we really need fans to continue to support our club are as follows:
• Renewing their season tickets for next season;
• Attending home matches; and
• Maintaining their Centenary Club Lifeline memberships.
If we can achieve 1,900 season ticket sales (down from 2,100), an average attendance of 2,500 (down from 2,700) and maintain our Centenary Club Lifeline income we can realistically get to the position where we can operate much closer to break even, whilst maintaining a very competitive football playing budget in this division.
In SPFL League One, the Centenary Club Lifeline and season ticket sales effectively keep our club alive, and provide the only platform, other than promotion to the SPFL Championship, to allow our club to operate as a full time club again next season. It is so important to stress that if any of our three core income streams were to deteriorate that would have serious implications for our club at this time. Therefore, we need the continued support of our magnificent fan base.
There is no question that the frustration we all feel at present causes negativity, but we must remain focused and remember why we all fought long and hard to save our club from administration only 18 months ago. If we fracture and let negativity grow around our club, it festers and undermines our collective power and strengthens our rivals.
We’re in this together and must stand side by side and pull our club through the difficult times so we can all enjoy the good times when they come.
We will launch our “Through Thick and Thin” Season Ticket campaign on 8 May and our Centenary Club Lifeline scheme will shortly be enhanced with an exciting range of membership benefits.
Your support of this great club will never be taken for granted by this current Board of Directors - we cannot operate and run this club in its new form without it.
As already acknowledged, the Board fully accepts we are accountable for the decisions we take. Everyone involved with our club is hurting at present, but we all need to react to adversity in the right manner and collectively be more determined to fight for the cause.
Thank you once again for your fantastic support to date, it is greatly appreciated, and we look forward to your continued support next season.
Members of the Board will be present at both the Patrons’ Council Meeting on 7 May and Supporters’ Council Meeting on 14 May, where we will be happy to answer questions.
Come on Ye Pars!