AS I sit down in the boardroom at East End Park, Ross McArthur is keen to point out the aesthetic changes.

He asserted that, when he and his colleagues on the Pars United board walked in as the club’s new owners five years ago, it resembled that of a bank rather than a football club.

McArthur found items in cupboards that he felt were of no relevance to the Athletic but, over time, they have been replaced with programmes, silverware and pennants from throughout Dunfermline’s proud history.

Memorabilia from European competition, club records and list of managers adorns the walls, while shirts and souvenirs from cup finals past is displayed proudly.

McArthur says that board members from opposition clubs have noticed the difference, and have even felt compelled to comment that it feels like coming into a football club.

In reception, boards have been erected telling the story of East End, from its terracing heyday to the all-seater stadium that it is today.

Showcasing Athletic’s past is important to McArthur and his boardroom colleagues, as is building on that and creating a bright future.

And it’s why, in 2013, they stepped in to rescue the Pars from becoming “like a Third Lanark” and ensuring that fundraising efforts from supporters to keep the club alive weren’t in vain.

“If there hadn’t been that collective effort, the club wouldn’t be here, and how sad would that be driving along this road, into an empty football stadium with no soul, like a Third Lanark,” McArthur commented.

“That’s how close it came. Without that collective effort, we wouldn’t have a football club in Dunfermline, and when you look at the support we’ve got, how sad would that be.

“You talk to people within Scottish football and this is seen as a big club, it always has been, but we’ve got to win football games to get back to where we want to be.”

There is no doubt of the passion McArthur – who has reported the club made a slight profit for a third successive year in the club’s annual accounts – and his fellow directors have for Dunfermline, as he explained: “I said this before, but this is a labour of love. If it wasn’t your club, you probably wouldn’t do it.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been five years but there’s a lot that has happened in that period.

“There’s been a lot of challenges that we’ve had to face, none more so than rebuilding the club when it came out of administration.

“We hadn’t really done any due diligence; we couldn’t, and you’re basically saying, ‘take this or the club’s going to go’. You couldn’t really have that on your conscience, after everybody worked so hard in and around the community to raise funds and see the love, affection and passion for this club.

“You couldn’t let that happen.

“I can only speak personally but I was taken aback where the club was. It was on its knees; it went into administration because it was a failed business but there were a lot of things that weren’t right within the club.

“We had to put all these things in place so we’ve made a lot of progress. The club’s in a better place, it’s stable, but there’s still a lot of work to be done, and it’s managing expectations.

“The expectation of the supporters, quite rightly, is that they want to be back in the Premier League, but you could say that about six teams in this league.

“The club getting relegated again from the Championship through the administration process, looking back now, was a bit of a killer because what we missed was Rangers, Hearts and Hibs for a number of seasons at other Championship clubs. In terms of that extra revenue they’ve accumulated, we’re playing catch-up all the time, and I think the only bonus we got was the Rangers game last year in the League Cup.

“We’ve had to deal with all that adversity but we had to take it on the chin. You’ve got to take it in good grace, work even harder, be resourceful and try and take the club forward.”

After relegation in 2013 – prior to Pars United’s takeover – Dunfermline spent two seasons in League One before winning it at the third attempt in Allan Johnston’s first year in charge.

They’ve improved their league position since, finishing fifth in their first year back in the Championship before reaching last season’s Premiership play-offs, but have had a difficult start to the current campaign.

There has been some discontent in the stands but, while acknowledging Pars’ poor home form, McArthur continued: “Nobody’s hiding from the fact we’ve had a poor home record this season.

“The expectation is we should be challenging at the top of the league, and I agree we should, but you’ve also got to be realistic and say some clubs have got greater resources than what we’ve got.

“It’s a challenge and you’ve got to stay positive, look at all the things you do in terms of scouting, recruitment, sports science, strength and conditioning, match analysis, psychology and all these types of things that you can do and, ultimately, the coaching, to try and get marginal gains to try and improve.

“Under Allan’s management, the club is in a far better place than what it was when we first came out of administration because it didn’t have any infrastructure at all – it was down to the bare bones.

“I think we’ve got the best squad now than at any time since I’ve been involved in the last five years. It’s a very young squad that might take another year or so to develop but I think we’ve got a great nucleus.

“What we’ve got to do is try and keep building and, eventually, keep believing in what we’re doing, and I do believe we will get there.

“You’ve got to take a rational approach to this. There’s pressure on me, there’s pressure on Allan, but we both share the pressure. It’s up to Allan and I to work through this.

“I see too many people in football be irrational and say, ‘This has got to change’, but if you change something, you’ve got to be sure you’re changing it now for the better.”

“There are so many good things happening around the club and, although you might go through a sticky period in terms of results, you’ve got to look at the bigger picture.

“There’s a lot of football still to play for but we’ve got to be more consistent.”

Looking for improvement isn’t just restricted to on the pitch; McArthur is tapping constantly into other clubs for advice, or ways of working that could be implemented at East End for the better, and is keen to engage with supporters.

That engagement has been one of the biggest achievements he feels the club have made over the last five years, and pointed out the remarkable figure of £1 million that supporters have raised for the club through the Centenary Club Lifeline.

“People deserve to be heard – that’s why we do things like the Supporters’ Council – because the fans invest a lot of time and effort into the club, via season tickets, the retail side, or the Centenary Club,” he said.

“The Lifeline is as vital as it’s ever been. If that wasn’t there, we wouldn’t function properly. We’d still have a club but we’d need to slash a lot of things and that would have an impact on the players we put out on the park.

“It does give us an advantage over clubs like Falkirk or Morton or Queen of the South. With our resources, plus the Centenary Club, that allows us to get a competitive advantage over these types of teams, and that’s where we need people to keep paying into the Lifeline because, if they don’t, that will put the club back.

“If we got into the Premier Division, then that’s different, but in this league, the Lifeline is absolutely vital.

“I know it’s a results-based business but we are going to have periods in a season, or a season where things don’t go the way we hope. We can’t turn our back on the club; we’ve got to keep going.

“We’ve got to look forward, strive to improve and learn from your mistakes.”

He added: “In one respect, I can’t believe it’s five years – it seems like 15 in another!

“There really isn’t a time where you can switch off. It used to be the summer but there’s so much involved going into the season and, particularly when results aren’t going the way you want, you start analysing. There’s a lot of work goes in and a lot of thinking time.

“I can’t get away from it – it consumes my life. You’ve got to continually try and learn all the time. You can’t rest on your laurels, you keep looking at how we could improve this and how could we improve that.

“There’s a huge weight of responsibility on my shoulders; I’ve got to show leadership and do certain things – people look at my body language and how I’m reacting, sometimes putting two and two together and getting 10!

“I’m lucky to have the people I’ve got on the board because we all have skills in different areas, and we all compliment each other.

“A lot of us never knew each other but, if they hadn’t been there, then things might’ve been different.”