PAUL PATON knows livelihoods are on the line when Falkirk face Dundee United.
The Bairns battler is no stranger to the heartbreak of relegation after enduring the drop with United in 2016.
And the 32-year has assured down-hearted Falkirk fans that the entire squad are aware of the stark realities facing the club if they flop at Tannadice on Saturday, with brutal cost-cutting inevitable if they crash to League 1.
Ray McKinnon’s men – three points adrift at the bottom of the Championship – will be officially relegated if they fail to win in Tayside and results go against them elsewhere.
Paton said: “The boys are still fighting for their careers, we know what it would mean if the club were to go down in terms of everyone’s own salary and the jobs in jeopardy throughout the club.
“That’s really hard to take as a player – the fact it’s not just impacting yourself, it’s impacting the whole club. People who do good work here could end up out of a job. I am sure the rest of the boys feel that way as well.
“I don’t want to speak as if we are already relegated – but there has to be a realism that it might happen. It’s hard. I went through a relegation at Dundee United, albeit I was injured until January, but I know how hard it is for the fans.
“You look at a club like Dundee United and they are still suffering from that years down the line. So the boys have got to pick themselves up, go until the end of the season and try to get out of this. We have two massive games left and, while we can still do it, we will have belief.”
Falkirk appeared to be enjoying a slight resurgence at the start of 2019, losing just once – against champions Ross County – in their opening 12 matches of the year after a swathe of signings in the winter transfer window.
However, they froze in arguably their two biggest matches of the season when they lost at home to Alloa and Morton in the space of a fortnight to leave them staring relegation in the face.
Paton continued: “If the worst is to happen this season, you look back at that and you say: ‘You know what? You deserve to go down if you can’t beat those kinds of teams at home. You don’t deserve to be in this league’.
“Our run of form had been good but, when it came to the two crunch games, we let ourselves, the club and the fans down.
“Those were two games we should have been looking to win at home and we lost both of them.”
The Northern Ireland internationalist acknowledges that all the pressure is on Falkirk at Tannadice, given Dundee United are already assured of second place in the Championship and can begin to turn their attention towards their promotion playoff campaign.
But even with nerves jangling, Paton is refusing to throw in the towel in Falkirk’s fight for survival.
Paton added: “The pressure is all on us and it’s about how we deal with that.
“We have a lot of experienced players in that dressing room and, from the first minute of this season, we have let everyone down. I just hope we can turn up to the end now and escape this.”