Dunfermline release 12 players following relegation

Mason is wanted by Dunfermline manager Jim Jefferies
Mason is wanted by Dunfermline manager Jim Jefferies

Relegated Dunfermline Athletic have released 12 players but made offers of new contracts to veteran midfielder Gary Mason and striker Liam Buchanan.

Division One beckons next season.

And so midfielders Martin Hardie, Steven Bell and Nick Phinn and forwards Steven McDougall, David Graham and Pat Clarke were not offered new deals.

Keepers Chris Smith and Bernardo Fernandez, plus defenders Alex Keddie, Austin McCann, Kevin Ruitkiewicz and John Potter, also exit the Fife club.

But Phinn, Bell and Ruitkewicz, who have missed much of the season through injury, have been offered the chance to return after the summer to "prove that they could be in a position to play on a basis heavily based on appearances", the Pars have announced.

Clarke, who spent last season on loan to Raith Rovers, has been offered the chance to return to East End Park on a trial basis to prove himself to manager Jim Jefferies should the 27-year-old still be without a club by pre-season.

Veteran former captain Potter, who was on loan to Queen of the South, has been invited to speak to Jefferies about "the possibility of getting involved on the coaching side with the Under-20s, where he would also be allowed to play".

The 36-year-old Hardie joined Dunfermline from St Johnstone last summer
The 36-year-old Hardie joined Dunfermline from St Johnstone last summer

And the futures of defender Andy Dowie and midfielder Mark Kerr have still to be announced as the out-of-contract pair are on holiday.

Jefferies told Dunfermline's website he had no choice but to release some of his most experienced players to make way for new signings and to reduce costs.

"The club is aware that, when you go down and have to rely on younger players coming in, inconsistencies creep in and they can have highs and lows," he said, warning that an immediate return to the Scottish Premier League could prove difficult given the resources available.

"But that was the decision that was taken. I have to to do the best I can with some promising youngsters.

"The way to get up at the first attempt is to have the money to go and strengthen your squad, or bring in players at decent wages, but that we will not be able to do.

"If we stuck to the players we have and didn't come up, it would be a massive problem the following year."

Assistant manager Gerry McCabe has been made a reduced offer to stay along with goalkeeping coach Brian Potter, while sports scientist Ross Hughes has been made redundant.

"Gerry has still to accept it, but the signs are that he will," said Jefferies.

The 27-year-old Buchanan has been offered a reduced deal and he and 33-year-old Mason, who Jefferies wants to retain because of his experience, have been given time to consider the new deals.

There was no longer-term offer to Spanish goalkeeper Fernandez, who made one appearance after signing in April as cover after injury to first choice Paul Gallacher.

Jefferies said that the fitness of Gallacher at the start of pre-season training would determine whether he would look to sign an experienced goalkeeper on loan or someone on a permanent deal.

The manager picked out midfielders Paul Willis, Ryan Thomson and Joe Cardle as young players who had already broken into the first team and would be important in the forthcoming campaign.

Midfielder Shaun Byrne and defender Kerr Young were young players he would be looking to step up to the first team.

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