We can bounce back stronger from relegation, says East Fife chief

East Fife chairman Lee Murray. Pic: George McLuskie
East Fife chairman Lee Murray. Pic: George McLuskie
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East Fife chairman Lee Murray insists the club will bounce back stronger following relegation to League Two.

The local entrepreneur took over the club last summer with plans to bring Championship football to Methil, and he insists those ambitions remain in place despite last season’s setback.

“The plan is still to take this club into the Championship because I believe that’s where East Fife belong,” Murray told the Mail.

“Our support is up there, and in some cases better than, some of the Championship teams at the moment.

“Our supporters deserve a Championship team but it was always going to be a long-term plan. I always thought it might take us five years.

“Relegation has knocked us back a wee bit – but if it means we come back up stronger then so be it.”

Murray admitted that mistakes were made last season – both on and off the park – and that lessons have been learned.

“With hindsight, there was far too much going on,” he said. “I came into this blind but I now realise all the bits and bobs that are required behind the scenes to turn this club into a winning machine.

“It’s been a very difficult, eye-opening, and frustrating year but it takes time to build a club and get everything in order.

“We now need some stability. If you look at clubs who are successful, they’ve all got stability.”

It will be a new-look East Fife side that takes the field next season as manager Gary Naysmith released 13 players following relegation.

“The whole reason we gave Gary an 18-month contract was that he wanted to be able to build his own team, with his own players, rather than someone else’s,” chairman Murray explained.

“We’ve let a lot of players go but both Gary and I felt that we’d been let down badly and that we needed to start again.

“To be honest, we’ve been working on that, and talking to players, since January.

“We were hoping they would be coming to a League One team, but luckily most of our targets have stuck with us. They were committed to coming no matter what league we were in, and we’re very happy with that.

“Gary is one of the main reason these players have chosen to sign for East Fife - they believe in him.

“We’re getting a decent squad together at the moment, and we’ll be bringing in a few trialists for pre-season.

“By the end of pre-season and the friendlies we will have a much better idea of the squad and we’ll know where we are.

“We’re certainly better off than we were this time last year when we had no players signed.

“We’re not making any big statements this time. We’re just going about our buisiness quietly in the background.

“We’re also getting the players in two weeks early for pre-season training - they’ll be starting next Tuesday.

“We want to be fittest and best team in the league, but we’re not going to shout about it from the rooftops.”