Press Conference with GmbHWednesday, 21st Jul 2021
Ross McArthur was joined by his fellow directors Thomas Meggle, Damir Keretic, Nick Teller who are also three of the four individuals behind DAFC Fussball GmbH,
Above: Damir Keretic, Nick Teller and Thomas Meggle
Following the announcement of DAFC Fussball GmbH becoming the majority shareholder in DAFC, a press conference was held on zoom. Ross McArthur was joined by his fellow directors Thomas Meggle, Damir Keretic, Nick Teller who are also three of the four individuals behind DAFC Fussball GmbH, a very highly respected group of investors based in Hamburg, Germany.
Ross McArthur said that he was “absolutely delighted” and described the day to be the most exciting time in his term as chairman.
Although not able to travel due to covid regulations GmbH has made the commitment to Dunfermline Athletic Football Club earlier than intended which will allow investment and changes to the infrastructure around the club which would not have been possible without this investment. Ross McArthur added:-
“To get that level of certainty in times that are still very very uncertain is fantastic news for the club. In my time as chairman this is probably the most exciting day that I have had since being involved in the club.
“I look forward to what the future holds. To get that level of inward investment during a pandemic, there is not going to be too many companies, never mind football clubs that will be able to do that.”
On behalf of GmbH Damir Keretic explained why the investors had taken an interest in Dunfermline. Owning and running a football club had become the ambition of the four members of the group. All four were successful businessmen with different competencies and Nick Teller and Damir Keretic had left their executive positions. Thomas Meggle had put together a template to run a football club because he felt too many mistakes were being made by people who wanted to be in the limelight or if they were so rich that they felt that they could do what they wanted. Damir continued:-
“Thomas put together this whole list and asked me if whether it was a good idea to start an agency like that. When the discussion evolved we said ‘Thomas don’t make an agency, just run and own a club by yourself with the three of us’. “
Thomas was a player in the Bundesliga First Division in Germany with St Pauli, he has a top level coaching licence, has worked as a coach and as a football director. He has a great network worldwide, scouting and finding the right players. The three others have different backgrounds and expertise, Nick Teller in banking and finance, Dr. Albrecht Gundermann is a lawyer and Damir Keretic worked in sports marketing with IMG for nine years.
The new investors are convinced that a football club should be able to be run without incurring operational losses, if they found the right club.
Damir continued explaining that their search into clubs started some three years ago:-
“Nick and me have worked a lot of years and we really didn’t want to work anymore with people we didn’t enjoy spending time with. For us it was very important and we were looking for a club where we felt that the people that we would have to deal with were on our wavelength, that we enjoyed their company and that we felt that we had the same moral values as us. And where we can implement our ideas.”
The search for a club had taken GmbH to Portugal, Austria, Denmark and England but in the end it was DAFC who ticked all the many boxes that Thomas had taken a year and a half to pull together. So it was GmbH who approached Dunfermline after looking at all the leagues in Europe.
“Then suddenly boom” said Damir, “Dunfermline was the city and the club that we thought could make sense for us. Once we met the people, we felt that they were very happy to agree to the ideas that we wanted to get through.”
Once they are allowed to travel Thomas, Nick and Damir expect to spend a lot of time in Dunfermline. They appreciate the existing board, and feel that their minds met so just want to add our know how to what exists here.
As GmbH got more comfortable and understood the plans of the club Nick Teller explained that it became quite clear that there were things that could strategically advance the club further which were in their interests as well. These include developing a dedicated training facility, building a youth academy, investing in various parts of the club which the club would not have undertaken given covid and the uncertainty.
“When Ross approached us to ask if we would be willing to bring our commitment forward, which was an option not a commitment actually, we were quite clear that we were going to exercise it, so it was only natural that we would do that early in order to make those investments in the club that would not otherwise have been possible.”
Nick stressed that these are structural investments with a long term objective not splashing money on doubling team costs. Re-building, after coming out of administration, what you could expect a club of this size and standing as Dunfermline to have.
Everyone will be wondering what changes new owners will make but Thomas Meggle described GmbH as partners rather than investors. Acknowledging the good work done by the DAFC board, he would initially like to assess things at the club but a pre-requisite to that would be being able to travel to Scotland.
“One of the ideas is to use my network to recruit players from another pond. That at the moment is a little more difficult due to Brexit and working permissions.”
Above: Damir Keretic and Thomas Meggle
Thomas has a phone call every week with Peter Grant but feels that a relationship cannot really develop until they can meet in person.
“I try to support things from Germany, I try to support the club in terms of recruitment but at the moment that’s really difficult. I am involved with all decisions the club have made in the past and I was involved in the decision to sign Peter as well.
“I am happy that he is our coach because, as Peter mentioned in his interview, when I watched Dunfermline’s first game (last season) against Alloa we won 4-1 but they had a really good structure in their game and it was interesting to see how he let his team play. That is a reason why I agreed with the other board members to sign Peter as the new manager at the club.”
Thomas Meggle hopes to bring his experience from St Pauli which is based in Hamburg and to begin with his plan was to consult with investors because they haven’t understood why they run a football club without using the opinions of the fans or without integrating the community.
“St Pauli is a big community club and there are more advantages to work together with fans and community than making decisions on their own.”
GmbH intended to run the football club together with the persons who are currently involved and who have worked for the club in the past. They know that Dunfermline is a big community club but want to involve everyone and together generate more power for the club and that leads hopefully to more success:-
“We see the club with great potential but it is more of a long term project. The sporting target is promotion in the mid term on a sustainable basis with a good structure, a good team with a good playing philosophy. Then it is easier to stay in the Premiership with a sustainable basis.”
Accepting that promotion out of the Scottish Championship cannot be planned, GMbH wish to increase the possibility of promotion. Newly relegated Kilmarnock and Hamilton will probably make promotion even more difficult but at the least possible in the mid term promotion is their target.
Ross McArthur revealed that the club has applied for their own football academy but that cannot happen until the next calendar year.
The manager’s search for new players cannot currently extend into Germany and Ross McArthur explained why:-
“The way the regulations are drafted is a barrier. Unless you are going to bring in a full internationalist when you can go to the Exceptions Panel which we were able to do with Vytas Gašpuitis. To bring in a full international German player would be way way over our budget.
“Much as I’d love to bring in somebody from the Bundesliga like Lewandowski I’m not quite sure he would get a game ahead of Todorov at the moment! Brexit is still big issue and being on the SPFL Board, I know the work that the football authorities are trying to do with the Home Office to try and get the criteria diluted.
“Hopefully that will take place and be more specific to Scotland for at the moment it is all skewed towards the English Premierleague. It may well be at the end of the transfer window before we see that clarity.
“In terms of signings there are a number of things that we are working on. Peter is very clear, he could have had his squad filled already but he is trying to get specific types of players and there are two or three that we have earmarked but circumstances that I won’t go into have dictated.
“There are so many different variables at the moment round protocols, quarantine and all sorts of things that are causing us problems that we have never had to face before. It is not for the want of trying and hopefully we will get there sooner rather than later.”
Damir confessed that Thomas had already identified potential players but agreed that it is unbelievably difficult due to current regulations:-
“I have been sitting together with Thomas and he has been very frustrated because many times he has spotted potentially really good players for the team who were interesting in coming here. They weren’t just from Germany, they were from all over and every time the answer was the same - ‘sorry can’t do, no chance he is not playing internationally.’
“That is another goal, we still have to figure out how to implement his knowhow now that there are Brexit rules but still use them somehow to improve the structure of the team long term. Then we would like to implement an idea that we would like to relate to you in a couple of weeks regarding the positioning of the club.”
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