Dundee’s two football sides need to be in the top league at the same time for the good of football in the city.
The fortunes of the neighbours are seldom in alignment. Historically Dundee FC and United have not often been in top form at the same time, and this season already reflects that situation.
United are currently right on the heel of leaders Hibernian in the Championship and promotion and immediate return to the Premiership is the burning ambition.
However, in such a tough league, and with the play off system weighted firmly in favour of the side finishing second bottom of the top division, nothing can be taken for granted.
With Dundee currently propping up the Premiership they look like automatic drop candidates unless Paul Hartley can turn the situation round quickly. It would be a disaster for football in the city if both sides found themselves in the second league next season.
Keeping current fans, never mind attracting new ones is difficult enough for any club, and the loss of income from the travelling supports of Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen and Hearts, added to that constant battle, would be a bitter financial pill to swallow for both clubs.
There would be no guarantee of a quick return and a vicious financial spiral would set in. Less income equals lesser players and within a season or two, unless fresh investment can be found, that inability to attract quality soon translates into a potential lengthy absence from the top flight.
United so far have found that season tickets have sold very strongly and walk up crowds are healthy too. However, Dundee have suffered long spells out of the top flight and know only too well that any initial surge of support for the team fades quickly outside of the attractions of the top league.
While both clubs spending a season together in the Championship might give the league an X Factor, a prolonged stay for both would be seriously damaging to both themselves and top class football in the city.
At Tannadice manager Ray McKinnon’s star is in the ascendancy and he’s quickly moulded a side which has learned how to mix and match the qualities needed for prospering in a very competitive league, but nothing can be taken for granted in football and onfield progress requires a constant gardener.
At Dens Paul Hartley who until recently was one of the brightest managerial prospects in Scotland has found that his star has faded with the poor start to the season. The big question is whether that is a temporary situation which he can recover from.
Hartley suffered a major blow in losing and not adequately being able to replace his two top scorers, and he needs to find a remedy to rejuvenate his side very soon before they become detached at the bottom.
For the good of football and other businesses in a two team city, Dundee propelling themselves up the league, and United maintaining their progress towards rejoining their neighbours at the top end of the Scottish game, would be the perfect boost for football in the city.