BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
ALLAN Johnston insists he has penned a new two-year deal with Dunfermline because he believes he is capable of leading another promotion push in the Championship next season.
The Pars manager, like the entirety of his first-team squad, was out of contract next month after being granted only 12 months when he arrived at East End Park last year charged with getting the club out of League One.
Having won promotion at a canter with five games to spare, the former Kilmarnock boss has had success in so far convincing 10 players to re-sign, including the likes of fans’ favourite Joe Cardle, defender Ben Richards-Everton, keeper Sean Murdoch and skipper Andy Geggan.
And, after previous discussions with managing director Ross McArthur, any doubts that may have lingered over his own future were removed yesterday when it was announced he had put pen to paper on a deal committing him to the Fifers until 2018.
Johnston said: “I’m delighted. I’d said to Ross I was wanting to stay anyway, so it’s good to get it over the line and get it sorted.
“But I did say this is where I wanted to be, this is a club that’s going in the right direction. You can see that everybody wants to be successful.
“You just need to look at the directors and especially Ross’s vision for the club and where he wants to take it. I’m delighted because I want to be a part of it.”
Dunfermline, who were relegated from the Premier League in 2012, will next season play in the second-tier of Scottish football for the first time in three years following a painful episode in the club’s history brought on by financial mis-management and the descent into administration in 2013.
And, riding on the crest of a wave of new-found positivity, Johnston now has high hopes for what his side could achieve next term.
With assistant Sandy Clark and coach John Potter also expected to sign new deals in the coming days, Johnston added: “I want to be successful and that’s why I’m signing here. If I thought we were going to be struggling down the bottom of the league then I wouldn’t have signed.
“The board want that as well. It’s a good fit.
“I want to be up there near the top end of the league.
“It would be amazing if we could get into the play-offs in our first year back in the Championship.
“That would be the target but we know it’s going to be difficult, because there’s a lot of quality teams.
“But there’s no reason, with the quality players we’ve got, and the players we’re trying to bring in as well, that we can’t be up there challenging.”
McArthur insists he and the East End Park board had been confident of sealing a deal with Johnston but admits he is relieved to get negotiations concluded.
He commented: “I’m absolutely delighted that we’ve actually put pen to paper now, although it has been agreed for a wee while.
“Allan said that he wanted to first of all deal with the players and get them signed up because they’re the most important people.
“He didn’t want his own contract to be done first. I was happy to accommodate that. It’s all about trust and I didn’t have any issues with that.”