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Scottish First Division Dunfermline AFC Owner Gavin Masterton "will not announce the future for the financially stricken club until Tuesday," according to STV. The club "faces being wound-up" over a £134,000 ($203,000) tax bill and options put forward include "voluntarily going in to administration or being liquidated." Masterton and the Dunfermline board "met non-footballing staff at the club’s East End Park stadium on Monday morning to update them." The club owner "will make a statement on the club’s future on Tuesday" -- after the 5pm deadline to settle the bill from U.K. tax authority HMRC (STV, 3/25). The Scotland DAILY RECORD reported Masterton is "continuing to look for a solution amid major cash flow problems." Dunfermline Football Dir Jim Leishman said, "Nothing has changed from last week. The options include administration or liquidation. I'm just an employee of the football club -- Gavin Masterton is in charge of the club's future" (DAILY RECORD, 3/25). In Dundee, Neil Robertson reported Leishman announced the club had reached “the end of the road,” and the ball was once again in Masterton’s court. Leishman said that the steering group "had investors in place willing to pay off the tax man and help the club through to the end of the season." However, having completed due diligence on the club’s books, "there were concerns about the long-term viability of the club in its present form" (THE COURIER, 3/25).
KEEPING THE FAITH: In Edinburgh, Iain Collin reported Dunfermline Chair John Yorkston insisted the club’s beleaguered board "had not given up hope." Liquidation has "always appeared the most likely scenario" if the HMRC liability could not be settled, but the possibility of voluntary administration "has also now been tabled as the Fifers’ board desperately try to cling to survival." And Yorkston insisted that "everything was under consideration by Masterton." Yorkston said: "We are not giving up, and we’ll hold more meetings on Monday. We’ve got to look at everything. The worst option for the club is liquidation. None of the folk I know want that, certainly none of the people that I’ve been involved in the talks with. Administration is also an option, but at the moment so is somebody else coming in at the 11th hour" (SCOTSMAN, 3/25).
OFFERING SUPPORT: In London, Brian Marjoribanks reported Dunfermline goalkeeper Paul Gallacher "accused the game’s governing bodies of standing back and allowing the 128-year-old club to wither and die." Gallacher, who lives in Dunfermline, said that "he has witnessed first-hand the heartache being suffered by Dunfermline fans at the imminent collapse of their local team." He admits to "having been stunned by what he perceives as a lack of help" from the Scottish Football League and Scottish FA for a club clearly "dying on its knees." Gallacher said, "Should the governing bodies be helping this club survive? They've not done a thing yet, have they? Nobody has helped at all. The league won’t help. It seems there are no (rules) in place for them to do anything for us, so it’s been left to us to try and turn this sorry sight around" (DAILY MAIL, 3/24).
Scottish Third Division club Rangers CEO Charles Green claimed Sunday night that "two clubs have offered Rangers their places in the English set-up as he reiterated his belief that a move south of the border is inevitable," according to Neil McLeman of the Scotland DAILY RECORD. Green insisted that "the inevitable arrival of the Old Firm will also benefit the game south of the border." The most successful club in Scottish history is "ready to start in the Conference and play their way up to the Premier League." However, Rangers "want to be wanted." Green insisted the Ibrox club's demotion to the Third Division, a softening in UEFA attitude and economic crisis "have given fresh impetus to a perennial debate." Green: "Whether it is next week, because the English authorities change their mind, or in five to 10 years, Rangers and Celtic will leave Scotland. I would like to think within five years" (DAILY RECORD, 3/25).
WARM WELCOME: In Glasgow, John Shields wrote, "Green claims that he has been offered a way into English football." Green: "Two English clubs have come to me and said 'buy us and close us down. Take us for free and take on the liabilities.' I have spoken to a number of chief executives from Premier League clubs and all of them would welcome Rangers," (SCOTTISH SUN, 3/25). The SCOTSMAN reported, "Green stated that he does not want a free pass to the Premier League, and that if he was offered the chance for his team to join the English top flight he would 'turn it down.'" Green said, "What I do want to do is to start playing football in England, and knowing that if I win that league, I get promoted to the next one and the next one. And no one can stand there and say we can't get promoted because you are a Scottish club. Could you imagine the income generation Rangers and Celtic would create in the Conference? Every Conference stadium would be full" (SCOTSMAN, 3/25).
F1 driver Mark Webber "has returned to Australia to consider his future" as the corrosive atmosphere within his Red Bull F1 team "hits an all-time low," according to Robert Grant of the AAP. Webber "accused Red Bull of protecting teammate Sebastian Vettel after the German disobeyed team orders and passed the Australian on Sunday to snatch victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix." Vettel was contrite later, admitting: "I f---ed up," but Webber "was furious and immediately returned to Queensland to think about his future." Webber said, "I think it's very early days right now. It's very raw, obviously, and we need to work out how the team goes best forwards from here. I will be in Australia on my surfboard -- the phone won't be engaged" (AAP, 3/26). In Toronto, Jeff Pappone wrote, "There’s no doubt Webber used the word 'protection' for a reason." In the '10 season friction between the two caused some bitterness, something the team did not help "by appearing to back Vettel over Webber at every opportunity." While many agree Vettel gets preferential treatment, this time he was told by the team he had “some explaining to do.” His comments in the post-race interview "likely won’t be the last word inside the team" (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/25). The BBC's Andrew Benson reported Webber told a pit-lane reporter that he questioned "whether he would ever get the full support of Red Bull to mount a title challenge" against his teammate. He described himself as a "black sheep" at Red Bull and said he would not follow orders again in a similiar situation (BBC, 3/25).
A TELLING MOVE: In London, Kevin Eason suggested by passing his teammate, Vettel "showed a side of his character that defied the cuddly, cheery image of the sport’s youngest three-times world champion" and "exposed himself as ruthless to the point of immorality." Eason also wrote, "Only Formula One gets itself into this sort of tangle. Teams running two cars drive into a moral cul-de-sac as soon as they push the button for team orders. At some point, there will always be favouritism, either to ensure the safe return of both cars or to maximise points for a World Championship" (LONDON TIMES, 3/25). Also in London, Eason wrote that "peace talks at Red Bull are on hold" and the team was "ripped apart by Vettel's decision to ignore orders" and pass Webber. Former drivers have called for Vettel to be sanctioned by his team, but "that is unlikely." Team Principal Christian Horner has "promised talks with his three-times world champion" (LONDON TIMES, 3/26).