PARS punters have been flocking to back the team for the upcoming campaign after it was revealed more than 2,000 season tickets have already been sold.

And chairman Ross McArthur says that such levels of support from the club’s fanbase has not only been crucial in Athletic recording a strong balance sheet for the last financial year but will help give Allan Johnston the tools for a promotion challenge.

The Dunfermline squad returned to pre-season training yesterday (Thursday) minus midfielder Rhys McCabe, who decided to join League of Ireland outfit Sligo Rovers last week, but Michael Paton was with the squad.

He is the latest of last season’s first team pool to depart East End this summer but Johnston has brought in former Raith Rovers defender Jean-Yves M’voto, as well as agreeing new deals with Lee Ashcroft, Nat Wedderburn, Callum Morris and Kallum Higginbotham, who this week showed off the team’s away kit for the coming season (pictured left).

A total of 2,126 season tickets have already been bought – with that total including more than 160 new holders – and McArthur insists that supporters buying briefs and contributing to the Centenary Club Lifeline is vital to the club on and off the pitch.

He told Press Sport: “Allan is realistic and respectful of the club’s situation and we have had countless meetings since March about the budget. We didn’t budget for Raith Rovers being out the league, which is a blow, but we assumed one of Dundee United or Falkirk would be out. You have to cut your cloth accordingly but we’ve had three years to build experience and have a handle on the costs involved in running a football club.

“The SPFL central revenue goes up slightly next year but you’re looking at a significant difference – around £180,000 – in finishing second as opposed to fifth.

“That’s why the Centenary Club Lifeline is a lifeline; I feel as though I sound like a broken record, but it is critical and bridges the gap between us and Falkirk. Otherwise, they’d have a big advantage over us.

“It is a challenge because, although income goes up, your costs go up as well. We will make another small profit, which has been the case two years in a row, and is remarkable especially since the last time was 20 years prior. That has been achieved by a combination of things, including money raised by the Centenary Club Lifeline and 1885 Business Club, and people providing services and people that have the capability of providing their free time to help us.

“Everything though is reflected by the team on the park. We have to invest in the team and, with that, there is a certain element of calculated risk. We want to try and get the best we can but it’s about being patient.”

While his manager has work to do to bolster his squad ahead of the league season kicking off in August, McArthur is optimistic that the promotion play-offs are a realistic minimum target.

He added: “The Championship will be very open and we’ve got to be ambitious and think that we can get into the play-offs. We have to be at least fourth out of possibly six teams and that’s where the manager’s ambition is.

“The players want to get the club back up to the Premiership and you want players that care in the same way as you do as a supporter.”

The Pars will hope that their red and black striped away kit – complete with retro ‘DAFC’ lettering that featured on shirts throughout the 1970s and 1980s instead of the club crest – will go down in May as one worn in a promotion-winning campaign.

It will go on sale at the club’s open day at the Glen Pavilion on July 16, while the new home kit is set to be revealed later this month.

Meanwhile, former loan striker Gavin Reilly has joined Championship rivals St Mirren on a one-year deal.