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Dunfermline Blog: The Pars’ Birthplace Saturday 23rd March

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irnbru-sflOkay, let’s start with a triple call to action. It’s a three-line whip Pars people:

1. Save the Pars – now and always!
2. Celebrate the Pars – this Saturday, 23 March, from 11am at The Old Inn
3. Support the Pars – this Saturday, 23 March, from 3pm at East End Park

It’s perhaps a surprisingly little known fact that the birthplace of Dunfermline Athletic FC is The Old Inn located on Kirkgate near the town’s historic Abbey, which is of course the resting place of Robert the Bruce. As the name suggests its Dunfermline’s oldest pub and the traditional front bar features the best selection of Pars memorabilia I’ve seen anywhere away from East End Park.

The Old Inn’s walls are adorned with programmes from the glory days of the 1960s when Dunfermline built up an enviable European record against sides like Újpesti Dózsa, Valencia, VfB Stuttgart, Real Zaragoza, Dinamo Zagreb, Olympiakos, Slovan Bratislava, Girondins de Bordeaux, Anderlecht, as well as being the first Scottish side to knock two English teams out of Europe, namely Everton and West Bromwich Albion. There are features on three Scottish Cup final teams, two of them cup winning, as well as great stuff from the clubs resurgence under Jim Leishman. The last time I was in The Old Inn flamed-haired cult hero John Watson was admiring his own gravity defying leap against Hibs, captured in glorious, grainy, sepia-coloured tones. Only joking John, it wasn’t that long ago, it’s crisp and clear black and white, how appropriate! Sadly, John admitted that his header hit the post rather than the back of the Hibees’ net. You have to see the jump to believe it though, it’s amazing.

Maybe a few former players will be at The Old Inn this Saturday, March 23, when the Pars pub hosts a Pars Alive gathering before the home game against Dumbarton. It all kicks off at 11am. Don’t be late or you might miss something. Understandably, with the club teetering on the brink of liquidation, Dunfermline supporters want a massive turnout to save the Pars, at The Old Inn, but more importantly at the game.

It really is time for Pars fans to unite and save the club.

I’m sure Dumbarton fans and any other well wishers will be welcomed
at this Pars gathering, held in the heart of Dunfermline, at the birthplace of DAFC 1885.

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before

So, what’s this gathering all about I hear you ask. That’s a good question, although I suspect the answer is, no one really knows, and those who think they know almost certainly won’t agree about it.

I asked one of the organisers and he declared; “It’s a celebration of all things Pars.”

“That’s as clear as mud, Neeber,” I replied argumentatively, knowing only too well that us Fifers love nothing more than a bit of argy-bargy.

Sure enough, he was immediately off on one. I can’t continue verbatim. A restless native in the Kingdom is not to be quoted. Oh, and at one point he told me it was all off the record anyway. Still, next to argy-bargy us Fifers love nothing more than a bit of unscrupulous gossip, so here’s the skinny: some Pars people think all the Pars people should get together socially; talk to each other one-to-one and face-to-face; get to know each other; trust each other; and unite to save the Pars.

I had to laugh. As if talking eye-to-eye and making friends has ever resolved anything. It’s never worked for me. I like to shout the odds at open meetings, berate the hapless do-gooders foolhardy enough to stand on stage, and abuse people on the internet for kicks… that’s all much more productive, isn’t it? It’s fun too! As for the barmy idea of working together, sharing a common goal, building a consensus, and acting as one… I mean, have you ever heard such hooey. Call me an old cynic if you like but I’ll be turning up at The Old Inn to see this miracle of social interaction in full effect. It should be an absolute hoot!

Although, now that I think about it, was there a Pars fanzine or fanzine feature called “Heard It In Lourenzos” back in the olden times before social media dehumanized us all?

I think the idea was that you could stagger into Lourenzos or any of the town’s many drinking establishments, meet a Pars player or Pars bod of some kind, let’s say Doug Rougvie, and hear all sorts of inside info, perhaps about how Iain Munro was a dreadful Pars manager who couldn’t pick a team and a conniving wee so and so to boot.

Anyway, all joking aside, let’s get the town and team spirit back. The Old Inn gathering is just the start. We’re not all going to be BNFs (Best Neebs Forever) over the course of a few pints, but be there… or be somewhere else and regret the day you didn’t; “hear it in The Old Inn.”

How Soon Is Now?

Unlike this blog today, the Pars situation is deadly serious. We’ll soon be counting down to going bust in minutes not days.

No one wants to see the club liquidated and fortunately the unsavoury finger-pointing at The Pars Community has been exposed this week as a sham. TPC may think the club is heading for liquidation but thinking liquidation is on the cards, or thinking it’s inevitable, and wanting liquidation are two very different things.

As I understand it all the Pars supporters’ groups, including Pars Alive, the Pars Supporters Trust and The Pars Community, together with Supporters Direct, are working hard behind-the-scenes to save the Pars. They’re trudging tirelessly over shifting sands though, most of them with blindfolds on, whilst the club and club propagandists shout out misleading directions. Only the Board-appointed Steering Group has had open access to the books and doubts about how open the access has been this week still persist.

The Club with the Thorn in its Side

There is also concern about how much the Masterton family expect to take out of DAFC and/or related operations in the future.

In the Dunfermline Press this week, Ally McRoberts reports:

“…that [the current Steering Group/Gavin Masterton]proposal apparently includes his daughters, Tracey Martin and Karen Masterton, running East End Events while Masterton would retain control of the stadium and Pitreavie and charge rent to the football club. ”

I fear the “black hole” discussion is about to open up again. I thought the dissidents had won the “black hole” debate when even the Board-appointed Steering Group accepted that giving the current family-run Board fans’ cash would be no more than a short-term fix.

Anything less than clear long-term security for the club, it’s stadium, and its crucial revenue streams, is likely to be viewed as yet another “black hole,” a drain on the club, and a real threat to the club’s future sustainability and very existence.

Even if fans can be convinced that the club has a future working with the Masterton family, two options spring to mind:

1. the club is saved by the fans for the benefit of the fans, or
2. the club is saved by the fans for the benefit of the outgoing owners.

What Difference Does It Make?

It makes a huge difference; the Pars can be a true and important community asset reinvesting every penny into what matters; such as on-field success, off-field success, the youth of West Fife, and community spirit, or the Pars can be a club forever indebted to the people who brought us an abundance of debt.

Ask

With Rangers mired in financial scandal last year the BBC’s Mark Daly exposed David Murray’s regime in a documentary. Why shouldn’t the biggest club in Fife expect the same level of professionalism and attention from the Beeb?

The BBC discovered that Gavin Masterton began the Bank of Scotland’s policy of loaning David Murray exorbitant sums, something like £790m in loans went to Murray International Holdings and Rangers. Daly revealed that Murray put none of his own money into the club but he took over £6m from MIH and Rangers in tax-free cash from a tax avoidance scheme which is still a matter of dispute with HMRC, as well as who knows how much in wages, pension, and other benefits.

Someone at the BBC should be asking the same sort of questions about Murray’s former banker and friend, Gavin Masterton.

1. How much of Masterton’s own money has gone into DAFC?
2. Like Murray, is it actually the case that Masterton has spent none of his own cash and all the money invested in the Pars came through loans from the bank where he used to be the boss?
3. How much has the Masterton family taken out of DAFC?

On the face of it rewarding the Masterton family for failure feels wrong and at best a dubious business for the Pars to enter into. It doesn’t appear to make good or practical sense, but moreover I’d like to know if it’s the right thing to do morally. In short, can someone please show me the Masterton family balance of payments and the Bank of Scotland (now Lloyds Banking Group) loan schedule. If not, I’m afraid I’m going to assume the worst, that we have a David Murray situation on our hands; a club owner spending nothing but other people’s money whilst trying to take the plaudits as the club’s major personal benefactor.

Let’s face it, at Rangers what was left was a substantial number of very rich directors, former directors, players, and former player, and a club with no money. The fans put their money in good faith, the creditors trusted the club to pay, and both the fans and the creditors lost millions. Who says Dunfermline won’t end the same way?

Pars Fans of the World Unite

See you all tomorrow in The Old Inn and at the big game. COYP!

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