Dunfermline Athletic

Chairman’s Statement

Friday, 4th Jun 2021

An end of season update from DAFC Chairman Ross McArthur.

On behalf of the DAFC Board I would like to take this opportunity to provide an “end of season” update to our supporters. This is later than I had originally anticipated but there has been so much happening behind the scenes over the last few weeks!

Our Continued Thanks
As a supporter myself, I understand how difficult it has been for our fans not to have had the opportunity to watch our team in person, being in the stadium on a match day, seeing familiar faces including even your own family and having “Pars Chat” with your fellow supporters. However, at the risk of repeating myself once again I cannot thank our supporters and sponsors enough for everything they have done to support our club through these hugely challenging times. The pandemic has been unprecedented in our times, but the support of our fan base has been the one constant and time honoured commitment that I and the other members of the Board never take for granted.

Our coaching and backroom staff, players, administrative and ground staff and volunteers have also been exceptional in dealing with everything that has been thrown at them over the last 15 months. It has not been easy by any means, but the fortitude and resilience they have shown deserves to be praised.

The future is still not absolutely clear, but we are now emerging from a dark place with light at the end of the tunnel, and we need to continue to stick together and do what we all do, to support our club, to give us the best possible opportunity for success next season. Without that support, our club would not be where it is today, on the cusp of an exciting future.

Positive Strategic Changes
With the support of our new investors we have started a process of reviewing what we do, how we do it and who does it. The travel restrictions continue to cause difficulties for our new investors, but a number of plans are already under way and we hope to make further, positive announcements in due course. It would have been nice to have things further progressed by now, but the impact of Covid has created difficulties across all sectors.

What I can say is that, despite the fact that our new investors have not been able to travel and their plans for the club have been hindered by Covid, their commitment to our club has not waivered. We have built up a very good and positive working relationship supported by our mutual trust and respect for one another.

As most of you will recall, DAFC Fussball GmbH has an option to acquire a further 45.1% of the DAFC share capital by 31 May 2022, however I am very pleased to say that we have reached an in principle agreement on the early exercise of that option, primarily to allow us to commit to the funding of our own training ground with greater certainty. This is not only a great gesture by our new partners, when a number of things still remain very uncertain, but it is further confirmation of their desire to take the whole club forward. We are currently in the final stages of securing a site for our training base, which will allow us properly to develop young players and bring together all the constituent parts of our club such as our own Youth Academy and the Pars Foundation.

Our investors are desperately keen to be allowed to travel to Scotland and become more actively involved at our club and, like everyone else, hope that the current travel restrictions are lifted sooner rather than later. As they said to me the other day, given that we have navigated our way through the Covid pandemic together as well as we have done, then they are all the more looking forward to an active involvement going forward and to engaging with everyone associated with our club.

Season Ticket Sales
As you know, we normally put season ticket cards on sale in early May but as previously highlighted we have delayed this because of two crucial factors. First, we have integrated a new card/ticket supplier and software system to give us a more efficient and effective platform moving forward. Second, we wanted to wait until we had heard the First Minister’s most recent update in terms of easing the lockdown restrictions. As I write, the Kingdom of Fife is now in Level One with the next review scheduled to take place at the end of June. It is heartening to hear the First Minister say that this is now an exit plan and that we cannot go backwards. With a continued and increasing number of vaccinations being delivered over the next six weeks to reduce the risk associated with variants, we are moving towards more normal times. The exact nature of this is still not known, but in Level Zero it has already been confirmed that 2,000 supporters will be able to attend a match in an all-seated stadium.

DAFC wanted to do our bit for the local people of Dunfermline and West Fife by providing NHS Fife with the use of our stadium for the vaccination programme. After all, our local community continues to rally behind us, so it was important that we stood alongside our community to assist them during these challenging times.

We are confident that based on the information we now have, by the time the league campaign gets under way, we will, as a minimum, be able to house all season card holders within East End Park, subject to even the current social distancing regulations. However, nothing is ever guaranteed but we wanted to wait for the most recent update from the Scottish Government. It is likely that crowd numbers will then increase with away supporters likely being the last group being allowed to attend at a football stadium.

I am pleased to confirm that season card sales will start on Wednesday 9 June, and further information will follow in the next few days.

The SPFL recently announced that the streaming of matches “live” can continue next season, as there may be some further disruption due to Covid. Therefore, all season card holders will continue to receive a free pass to a live stream of the match, in case they cannot attend the match due to any restrictions imposed or their personal choice in the first few months. This flexibility will be built into our season card system.

If I could finish by repeating what I said last season, as the message is still the same. The revenue that we receive from season cards allows us to plan with some certainty for the coming season. So, I now appeal to as many Pars fans as possible to assist our Club in preparing for the coming season by purchasing a season card. In the interests of good financial management, the Board needs to determine, as quickly as possible, our likely income. This will allow us to plan and to provide Peter with an appropriate budget to strengthen the playing squad. I am acutely aware of the many financial challenges individual families may have at this time, and I am hugely respectful of this fact and appreciative of the donations we have received to date, which continue to make me feel very humbled. However, I would not be doing my job as Club Chairman if I did not issue a rallying call to our fans to support our Club in terms of planning for next season. We need your further support more than ever as all football clubs will continue face significant challenges in the coming season, as we all navigate our way out of the pandemic.

Your ongoing support is hugely appreciated and valued and I look forward to seeing you all back “home” at East End Park next season.

Ross McArthur

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