Updated report on club’s affairsTuesday, 10th May 2016
10/05/16: The view from the Boardroom
Ross McArthur, Managing Director, is making this statement on behalf of the Board of Directors of Dunfermline Athletic Football Club as an updated report on our club’s affairs, and as part of our ongoing policy of communicating with all stakeholders in an open and transparent manner.
“What a difference a year makes! Last May, it is fair to say we were all down in the dumps, but collectively we took our medicine and responded in the right manner by pulling together magnificently, to rebuild further the spirit of our club. The positivity that now surrounds our club is a real joy to see, and it is so important that this remains as it can be both uplifting and inspiring – something Allan Johnston regularly remarks upon.
"Within any business, but particularly at a Football Club, if you can get everyone pulling in the same direction it makes such a big difference and creates momentum which can lead you on to success. When you achieve success by doing so, it is so much sweeter, and every single supporter, member of staff, volunteer, sponsor or advertiser should be proud of what has been achieved in the last 12 months, as you have all made a massive contribution.
"As I stated in the recent Peterhead match day programme, I always get a bit of stick for continually thanking people, but there are so many individuals in and around our club who have contributed so much to our success this season and deserve to be praised as the championship flag is just reward for their individual efforts. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them again.
"My fellow Board members put in countless hours behind the scenes, for the love of the club, and the last few years have been trying to say the least – a real baptism of fire for us all as a new Board - but their support, fortitude and resilience should be acknowledged by the wider fan base, as without them, we would not be toasting success.
"I would also like to thank our loyal staff who have contributed so much this season, and after the past few years I am pleased that our club is now moving forward again as it has been a difficult period for them. Thank you Shirley, Margaret, Matt, Kevin, Willie, Isobel and Michelle.
"There are also so many regular volunteers who help our club on match days in terms of safety, security, stewarding, turnstiles, catering, programme copy and sales, 50-50 tickets, ball boys, mascots, media and photography that I simply cannot mention them by name, but I acknowledge your fantastic support.
"As I also do with the incredible team of supporters who volunteer to assist our club out with match days be it helping in our Club Shop, the DASC Shop, hospitality areas, or with stadium maintenance. In addition, the many people involved with the Centenary Club Lifeline, 1885 Business Club, Pars Supporters Trust, Young Pars, Heritage Trust, Disabled Access Group as well as all of the Supporters Clubs, you have all contributed.
"As have our wonderful loyal sponsors such as the Purvis Group and Macklin Motors. This season, SRJ Windows took over the reins as our new shirt sponsor, and I am pleased for the Macintosh Family (Keith, Linda and Stevie) that their unbelievable support has been rewarded with a successful conclusion, to coincide with the opening of their new state of the art office in Rosyth. Our Club is so lucky to have such wonderful sponsors as SRJ Windows, and the continuing support of the Purvis Group at this stage of our development.
"Finally, I would like to thank each and every Pars fan for their loyalty and support since our Club came out of administration, as you have continually proved to be the 12th man on and off the park. I know other provincial clubs in Scotland would love to have the type of support provided by the Pars Family behind them. Please enjoy the success we have achieved this season, because undoubtedly your contribution has been key."
Overview of Season 2015-16
Promotion to the Championship was once again 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 compete well in any Challenge Cup, League Cup or Scottish Cup matches.
In the light of all of the above objectives, the Board has to acknowledge that this current season has been an undoubted success, not only on the pitch, but off it too. The Board recognised that the recruitment of the right Manager and, in turn, the right types of player was critical going into this season.
We were naturally delighted with the capture of Allan Johnston as First Team Manager, in May 2015, who we managed to convince to step down a few divisions to join our club and, following Allan’s appointment, the recruitment of Sandy Clark, the retention of John Potter and the acquisitions of some real quality players. In addition, the Board has been really pleased with the improved performances of a number of existing players, who have thrived under Allan’s leadership and coaching.
As we faced our third season in the SPFL League One, it is not too dramatic to say that this campaign was always going to be one of the most crucial seasons in our club’s history, and as a consequence there was a lot of pressure on the shoulders of the Manager and players. They carried the weight of our expectation magnificently, and were duly rewarded with the League Title.
The Board therefore has firstly to acknowledge the tremendous job undertaken by Allan Johnston this season, as has not only built a team to achieve success, but has done so by playing some outstanding football, not only in league matches but in four cup games against Premiership opposition where we were only beaten once over 90 minutes, and that was by a solitary goal. Allan’s full time backroom staff (Sandy, John, Kenny, Mo and Gary), along with the players naturally deserve enormous credit too, along with the likes of Dr Bobby, Davie, Ian, Sammi, Alan and Billy who also help behind the scenes to allow the football side to operate professionally.
It has been well documented that all of the first team playing staff and our Management Team would be out of contract at the end of this season. However, since winning the League Title six weeks ago, we have already made good progress in terms of renewing the contracts of our core players, and of course our Management Team, before some of our competitors even know which division they would be playing in next season. This can prove a difficult and arduous time at any club, but we are pleased with what has been achieved thus far.
The Manager is continuing discussions with other existing players, who have not yet signed new contracts, and he hopes to retain more of the current squad. Inevitably when contracts expire, it is not always possible to match everyone’s expectations so it may be the case that we will lose some players who we would have otherwise have liked to keep.
However, what I can categorically assure our supporters is that in every written offer we have made to the existing players, we have done everything in our power to retain their services and offered them the best possible contract terms we can.
The Manager’s intention is to operate again with a tight knit squad next season of 18-20 first team players, all of whom would be ready to play if required. He is working on the basis of quality rather than quantity, in other words. Therefore, the recruitment of the right type of players to strengthen the existing squad will again be so important, particularly stepping up a level. Our goal next season has to be to compete in the SPFL Ladbrokes Championship, which will hopefully be achievable with the playing budget at Allan‘s disposal.
The Under 20 squad was a particularly young group this season, and it was satisfying to see a number of individual players grow and develop over the course of the year. Next season, John and Allan are looking to bring in a few more “experienced” younger players to complement the existing squad, and put a bit of pressure on the first team squad at the same time.
It is anticipated that the Under-20 team will again participate in the SPFL Elite Development League. In addition, our club will again take on a leading role in financing the Fife Elite Football Academy.
It has been clearly evident this season that the players have been faster and stronger, and to further support the Manager’s plans and ambitions, Gary McColl our Sports Scientist will be employed full time next season.
In addition, after many weeks of planning and development we are pleased to announce our Stadium Company, Pars United (EEP) Limited has agreed to build a bespoke Strength & Conditioning Gymnasium in the existing directors’ car park, with a flexible space on the first floor which can act as a rehabilitation area for the players or a further hospitality area on match days.
Since the playing staff moved back to East End Park, our existing undercroft has become really tight for space, so this new area will be invaluable and will help to professionalise the club, as we try to attract new players. The gymnasium will not be open to the public, only other sports clubs and personal trainers. It will also allow the club to save paying external fees and bring in some valuable income.
We are also working to improve the availability of the training pitches at our disposal next season. A number of options are being reviewed at present, within our available budget, and we are working closely with the McKane Park trustees, Fife Sports & Leisure Trust and other parties.
It is important that we adopt a professional approach at all levels.
After a difficult trading year ending 31 May 2015, it is pleasing to report that with three weeks to go until the end of this current financial year, it is anticipated that our club will make a small trading profit.
For a full time club of our size, competing in the third tier of Scottish Football for the third consecutive season, with an elite U20’s team and making the major contribution to the Fife elite youth academy is a remarkable achievement. It is also important to remember the context of this, as the club has not made a trading profit in the last 20 years!
Our income this season has benefited firstly from a successful, winning team but ultimately the loyalty of our supporters and sponsors. Our income from commercial activities, season tickets, retail, and hospitality activities (match day and non-match day) have all exceeded our budget.
In addition, the walk up fans attending matches this season has been nothing short of remarkable for SPFL Ladbrokes League One, particularly as the biggest away support was approximately 300, and that was a one off.
Thank you to all of our regular supporters who cajoled friends, family and former supporters along to East End Park to watch the excitement unfold this season, hopefully everyone will be there in good voice next season.
A number of costs were reduced in the close season, but we have been faced by a number of substantial and unbudgeted stadium repair bills, as we begin to suffer the impact of a number of years of neglect and lack of maintenance.
However, the vast majority of these repairs have been paid for within this financial year, which again makes our final results all the more pleasing. The type of costs we have been faced with relate to substantial electrical repairs, undersoil heating, gas boilers, new stainless steel gas pipework, turnstile repairs and pitch maintenance and equipment.
In addition, because of the long term injuries to Ryan Williamson and Callum Fordyce we had to increase the playing budget to boost the squad during the season itself, to try and ensure our end of season target could be met.
We also expect to finish this season with a slightly increased six figure cash balance in our holding company, Pars United CIC, which again represents a fantastic closing position from where we were last year. It is vitally important moving forward that we continue to build up the capital reserves on our balance sheets, as our club has no further means of borrowing or raising capital other than through new equity or donations.
It is so important for all of us on the DAFC Board to demonstrate clearly to our supporters that we are managing your club diligently and prudently, and are doing our best to protect the very many “investments” you make in our club.
As a club, we continue to carry out our business in an honourable way; paying our employees, HMRC and our suppliers in full and on time. Integrity and respect, alongside dignity and humility are important characteristics of our new DAFC.
We continue to need your help
As stated last year, DAFC is now a widely owned community club, therefore it clearly needs the support of the community every season. It is the collective responsibility of us all to work together so that our club is here for future generations. The future of our football club is now ultimately in the hands of its own supporters as it has been since we came out of administration.
Next season provides a better platform now to rebuild and grow our club, but I have said a few times already, the SPFL Ladbrokes Championship is not transformational in terms of finance, unless you are near the very top of the league.
So, once again next season 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.
Even in the SPFL Ladbrokes Championship, the Centenary Club Lifeline and season ticket sales are the lifeblood of our club.
We recently launched our “Movin’ on Up” Season Ticket campaign on Friday 6 May, and the regular monthly income from the “Lifeline” is now a core part of the cashflow of our club. It effectively allows us to enjoy a real competitive advantage over other clubs of our size. The Centenary Club Lifeline contribution together with the donations received from the 1885 Business Club, the DASC Shop and the Pars Supporters Trust are all part of our budget next year and allow Allan Johnston to look at bringing in a better quality of player to our club, as well as paying the bills in and around our club.
As highlighted earlier, the key to success has been everyone pulling in the same direction, and we need to keep this positivity and momentum going into next season, so your ongoing support, be it by renewing your season ticket or subscribing to your Centenary Club Lifeline membership, would be warmly appreciated.
As we keep saying, 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. In addition, thank you once again for your unbelievable support to date, it is as always greatly appreciated, and we look forward to your continued support next season.
The Board do what they do, as fans themselves, because of the magnificent support our club receives from its supporter base.
Members of the Board will be present at the Supporters’ Council Meeting on Thursday (12 May), where we will be happy to answer questions.
In the meantime, have a great summer, looking forward to the SPFL Championship!
Come on Ye Pars!”