John Gibson has delivered a blow by blow account of how the deal he thought he had struck to buy Stephen Thompson’s majority shareholding in Dundee United fell apart.
In a lengthy statement, Gibson raised concerns over how “United are going to fill the financial black hole” caused by life in the Championship and warned that “these are very worrying times for Dundee United fans.”
The local businessman, who is also a leading figure in the Dundee United Supporters Foundation, was confirmed as the prospective buyer of Thompson’s shares only for Gibson to pull the plug due to “eleventh-hour” changes made to the agreement, he alleges, by the ex-chairman’s lawyers.
He also called on Mike Martin, who took over from Thompson, as Tannadice chairman to “come clean” over the whole takeover/investment issue.
Gibson’s statement read: “I was approached by Stephen Thompson almost two weeks ago and agreed to buy his majority shareholding in Dundee United.
“I expected to announce the purchase on Saturday 7th July but his (Thompson’s) lawyers amended the agreement,” he claimed.
“The funds to buy his shares were lodged in a lawyers’ client account last week.
“The deal was due to be signed on Monday 9th July but was then delayed at his end until the following day, Tuesday.
“On that day I received an e-mail again amending the offer, with two clauses which were simply unacceptable, but which, due to non-disclosure agreements, I cannot reveal.
“I wanted complete privacy until the deal was signed and sealed but had folk calling me on Sunday 8th July to say they knew about the deal, and journalists calling on the Monday to enquire about it.
“Given that the press, as they were absolutely entitled to do, were going to run the story, I reluctantly made a brief statement to them.
“As I am a member of the Dundee United Supporters Foundation, I felt I had to inform them of my intention to buy the shares, and had done so in strictest confidence on the 2nd July.
“The money offered and lodged with the solicitors was a substantial six-figure sum.
“The impasse at Tannadice has to be broken and I thought this was the opportunity to do so.
“However, I had no option but to withdraw my offer for the shares due to these eleventh hour changes, from Stephen Thompson, to the original offer. The new conditions were bizarre, and impossible to achieve.
“This deal would have allowed fan participation in the club and also recreated what United used to be: a true community club.
“I now intend to keep my powder dry and will continue to encourage fans to join and support the DUSF.
“As Stephen Thompson has offered to sell the shares, it seems to me that there now appears to be little prospect of any ‘American deal’, although I would be delighted to be proved wrong.
“Chairman Mike Martin needs to come clean with the fans on this situation as soon as possible.
“I am seriously worried as to how United are going to fill the financial black hole, since there are no assets left to sell or mortgage, and apart from some deal being done with a Ryan Gauld sale and any sell-on fee from that, there is little prospect of fresh funds coming in. Added to the extremely poor season ticket sales (and I have bought six, for myself and my family) the club could find itself short of a seven-figure sum this season.
“These are very worrying times for Dundee United fans. On reflection Stephen Thompson may have been playing me along, using my offer to wave in front of the other directors, but only time will tell.”