Gavin Masterton moves to allay fears over Dunfermline debt

 

Dunfermline director Gavin Masterton maintains the First Division club is "debt-free" but admits it is suffering from a "short-term cashflow crisis".

The Fife club is about to launch a share issue to seek investment of up to £500,000 to see it through to May.

"The football club is debt-free. There is no bank debt. The debt is to myself and the other directors," the Pars director told BBC Scotland.

"Like every other club, there is a financial challenge ahead of us."

Dunfermline were relegated from the Scottish Premier League last season and their finances have suffered in the Scottish Football League, with players and staff not always being paid in full each month.

Continue reading the main story

Dunfermline Athletic doesn't have any debt. The debt is all in a separate company called East End Park Limited

Gavin Masterton Dunfermline director

But while Masterton describes the pay delays as "embarrassing" and acknowledges it has been a "tough time" for the Pars, he is at relative ease at the debt of around £8.5m shown in the club's last set of accounts.

"Dunfermline Athletic doesn't have any debt," he said. "The debt [£5.9m] is all in a separate company called East End Park Limited.

"I organised that some time ago and that was a consolidation of all the historical debt of the football club.

"We'll reach an agreement with that over four or five years but it will be within the capability of the football club to pay it.

"There is [also] £3m due to me on the balance sheet, quite apart from the equity I've got there, and there is about £800,000 due to directors and former directors. That's how the club has been funded."

Masterton, 71, cites the drop to the SFL, the recession and Dunfermline's running costs of about £200,000 per month as reasons for their financial problems.

He says the club spends £150,000 a year on Under-20 football and £50,000 per annum on its youth programmes.

"We have kept all of that funded and we are very proud of that but we have a short-term cashflow crisis," Masterton continued.

"Our average attendance is probably the highest in the First Division but it's still very difficult indeed.

"It costs £2.4m a year to run the football club and that's way below what it used to be.

"When you come down from the SPL to the SFL the gulf is absolutely enormous.

"Our attendances are substantially more than St Johnstone's. St Johnstone have received in excess of £1m from the SPL.

"To date we have received £10,000-15,000 from the SFL. Next year's reorganisation should help substantially but it is still a huge gap."

Masterton intends the share issue to help run Dunfermline over the next few months, admitting that the club is "a bit behind with one or two" creditors.

He added: "The last thing we are talking about is going into administration.

"We will pay every creditor in due course.

"We are going to tidy the balance sheet up and tidy the profit and loss account up with a level of spend which is in our anticipated income.

"We have a programme which is going to take a lot of costs out of the system, which we know will be deliverable next year."

Masterton revealed the club might some day follow the example of St Mirren by cashing in on its stadium, which he says is the subject of a long-term loan from East End Park Limited.

"We are sitting with a 12,000-seater stadium. We don't need that," he said.

"There's a long-term loan [on it]. It doesn't affect the football club. They've got a 30-year lease so we'll take our time to see where that takes us.

"Dunfermline Athletic doesn't have any guarantees to this other company. It is all on its own.

"That's my other company. There is no interest being paid on that and there is no rent being paid on that. That is for me to sort out in due course. Dunfermline Athletic has no responsibility for that whatsoever."

And Masterton claims staff are 80-85% up to date with the pay they are owed.

He said: "It's been an issue for two or three months. It's tough, it's embarrassing but it's not the end of the world. It's not as though they've been paid 15%. It's better than than having no job at all."

You can follow Brian McLauchlin on Twitter.