The Scottish Premiership would be more attractive to TV broadcasters with both Dundee United and Dundee in it, according to former SPL chief Roger Mitchell.
Robbie Neilson’s Tangerines will start the 2020/21 campaign in the top flight after winning the Championship last season.
Reports last week claimed the new term could begin with just one league of 16 teams – and United’s city rivals are determined not to be left behind if the Premiership restarts and lower leagues do not.
While some of their Championship counterparts may not be in a financial position to return to action without fans in the stands, the Dark Blues want football back at Dens Park as soon as possible, even if it means playing behind closed doors.
Sports advisor Mitchell – who spent four years in the Hampden hot seat – said: “Dundee is a great footballing city and it deserves be sitting round the top table in Scottish football, whether it’s one club or two.
“You can’t have the city of Dundee on the outside.
“It (the derby) is a lot more attractive than non-derby games. You can really get behind them.
“You just have to put yourself in their (the broadcasters’) shoes.
“The rivalry might not merit the same respect as a Glasgow derby in terms of numbers but you wouldn’t want to lose it.
“You wouldn’t want to lose the Edinburgh derby either. The derby games are attractive.”
With Hearts owner Ann Budge’s reconstruction plans doomed, the Tynecastle side look set to compete with Dundee and Inverness for the second-tier title.
But Mitchell – whose Are You Not Entertained? podcast recently shone a light on how investable Scottish football is – has sympathy for the Jambos’ situation.
The capital club were relegated from the Premiership following the SPFL’s decision to call the leagues on a points-per-game system in the wake of the coronavirus shutdown.
“It’s dreadfully unfair, almost like a death sentence,” he said.
“The league they’ve gone into, when is it starting? That’s very hard.
“Hearts are one of our top five clubs.”
Last week Mitchell backed Dundee technical director Gordon Strachan’s decision to deliver a brutal assessment of where the game on these shores is at and he enjoys sharing his own views on the subject on social media.
But it’s unlikely he will be back at Hampden in an official role anytime soon.
The Italy-based businessman – who advised current SPFL boss Neil Doncaster on a recent deal with AI-automated sports production firm Pixellot – said: “I don’t think I’ve got the personality that’s liked up there by a majority of people to come back and take a front-facing role.
“Most people don’t seem to like the way I tell it.
“What I do, in general, is advise people from the background. I’m always happy to do that if people are trying to do the right thing.”