Dunfermline Athletic

New CEO brings fresh energy and professionalism to the club

Thursday, 10th Feb 2022

“That really special togetherness at Dunfermline is something we must never drift away from.”

Dunfermline Athletic’s new Chief Executive arrived in Dunfermline on Monday and after the club announced his appointment, spoke to the media on Thursday. David Cook explained his career path and decision to leave Nottingham Forest to take up a position at the club he has supported all his life.

Understandably his first few days in the post have been a bit of a whistle stop tour of all the departments at East End Park, familiarising himself with the town and getting to know the board of directors in a bit more detail as well. He explained to the media that there were multiple factors that led to his move north:-

“It has been a really enjoyable start and I am keen to get really stuck in to it over the next few weeks and months ahead. I had a good five years working for Nottingham Forest and it felt to me that, after five years of bringing in new partners, maximising ticket sales, selling out the stadium, etc., it was time to start thinking about what next for my career.

“I was always really keen to make that next step to become CEO, rather than commercial director and CCO. So, for the last six to 12 months I’ve been speaking to a couple of other sporting properties around CEO positions. From a career perspective that was the logical next step for me.”

David Cook - First Interview
Sat, 5th Feb 2022

David revealed being a Dunfermline supporter from the time his father took him to his first Pars match in the Leishman era in the mid 80s. Despite living in Nottingham and Abu Dhabi for six years prior to that, he retained his season ticket.

“Once you’ve got your affinity to your club you’re hooked, aren’t you? It is a proud moment but I’m really keen to stress that I’m not just here as this romantic and emotive appointment, as a Dunfermline supporter. First and foremost, I’m here because of my experiences in the business of football and, secondly, because I believe it’s a project that can go places. The fact that I’m a Pars fan is an added bonus, for sure.

David was brought up in Dunfermline and his wife is also a Fifer, so there was a call for home, to bring the family home at some point, but that would only happen if there was the right opportunity. That coincided with a dialogue starting to happen with Ross McArthur at Dunfermline and also the German investors based in Hamburg. So a job at Dunfermline at a time when fresh investment is promising to boost the club, is a bit of a dream come true. David agreed that these are really exciting times:-

“Don’t get me wrong, there’s going to be a lot of hard work and it’s a challenging project, but it’s a really exciting project. There’s the new investors from Germany, who bring some brilliant sporting experiences and lots of great legal, financial, commercial and marketing experiences, and working with that group is exciting for me.

“There’s the infrastructure developments happening down at Rosyth, with the new training venue that we really think we can build up to be a true home for the sporting and community side of the football club. How we then start to build our academy and develop our own players in a bit more depth than we have done, is a really exciting part of the project.”

The Chief Executive reflected on how Covid rules had restricted the German investors presence but he stressed that their commitment is still there.

“But for Covid, they would have been here a lot more frequently. I know that has been a real bugbear and frustration for them, that they haven’t been able to travel as frequently as they would like to support the people here right now.

“They want to implement the vision they have. This is a group of people I had a dialogue with pre-takeover. I spoke to them a little bit about what I thought was achievable for the club, purely as someone who had mutual friends with them.”

The mutual friends were working with the club, involved in brokering the investment, and asked David to give his opinion on what the strengths and weaknesses were, where the opportunities were.

“I know how committed they are and what I really like about the group is that they are ambitious but they have a realism to that. This is not a fantasty of going to start winning the Premiership in the next 24 months. There is realism around about what we want, that is not to say that there isn’t real strong ambition for what we want to deliver here.

“I’m really excited to be working with them and believe we can develop this club really well. There are some great opportunities to take Dunfermline back to the Premiership, I believe.”

The German group approached David around six months ago. They expressed their frustrations — particularly around Covid — and not being able to be as hands-on as they would have hoped. He continued:-

“Maybe there was a bit of realisation that trying to do things day-in, day-out, while splitting time between Germany and Scotland, was going to be challenging. That reinforced a feeling that it would be good to have someone on the ground driving this forward.

“There was a shared view across the board — from the Scotland-based and German directors — that we needed to further professionalise the club. There was a desire for fresh energy, enthusiasm and someone on the ground, day-to-day, helping them deliver the plans they have.”

Asked what aspirations David himself had for the club he suggested it was quite early to say in any detail but he highlighted following through on the infrastructure investment is going to be a real big game-changing project for the club over the next 12 to 24 months:-

“Of course, we want to enhance and improve on our league position. We’ve had a challenging season so far but that is what it is and we’ve now got to get ourselves out of that position and stabilise and then look to grow. Ultimately, we want to be back in the Premiership.

“Supporting a football club is a rollercoaster, regardless of what club you support. As CEO and as a member of the board, like a number of other people, we have to ride the wave and make sure the highs are not so high and the lows are not so low. It’s important for us to keep that balance.

“Of course, like all supporters we want success as well. We want to win every game and win trophies, but that takes a lot of hard work and we’ve all got to do our bit to make the club as strong as possible.”

David had not yet met John Hughes but naturally was really looking forward to meeting John and his coaching team:-

“It has been challenging circumstances for him to come in to but, speaking to everyone at the club, he has had a really positive impact. I’m excited about working with him going forward. Dunfermline needs a togetherness. That’s a togetherness across the club, across the town and all the stakeholders involved with us. We want to build on the work John has started in terms of galvanising everyone.

“If you look at the club in the past — the Leishman era, the Paton era and even coming out of administration — if I was to sum up those times, it would be that really special togetherness at Dunfermline about then. That’s something we must never drift away from. That’s the same at any football club in any town or city. You need that togetherness to achieve. Everyone needs to be pulling in that one direction.”

David was Commercial director at Forest but in the slightly broader role of CEO at Dunfermline he identifies elements on the operational side that he needs to pick up in terms of working with the manager, and Sporting director Thomas Meggle, in terms of player recruitment and the sporting side going forward. He is also extremely grateful that Ross McArthur will be around for the next three or four months as chairman:-

“I will be eeking every last ounce of knowledge and information out of Ross. We`re really fortunate to have Ross, we`re really gutted that he`s going to be stepping back. We understand it of course, but I know we`ve got a friend there that we`ll always be able to call upon to help us if there`s any information gaps and knowledge gaps that we need to fill.”

Engagement with supporters, staff, volunteers and what is termed the Pars family will in due course follow very soon. David commented:-

“I think a special thing, and a big part of why the German investment group chose Dunfermline, was that special group of people who are supporting the club out of the love of the club, not just as a commercial or employment opportunity.

“We`ve got to keep that specialness that we`ve got with that group of people that give up their own time. I think it`s incredible that 8-10 people come in and help tidy the stadium after a match out of their love for the club. That`s something that`s a special quality that we`ve got to retain, and really build upon.”

The Chief Executive confirmed that he will be very visible every match day:-

“I will be supporting the football club in absolutely every way I can. That will probably be interaction with customers here, supporters here, hospitality members, obviously hosting visiting directors is another important part of that. I`ll be active, I`ll be here on all match days home and away and, like everyone else, praying that we get three points.”

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