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New stadium would put Dundee in ‘elite group of clubs in Scotland’ says American owner

Dundee owner Tim Keyes
Tim Keyes.

Dundee owner Tim Keyes has revealed how he hopes the club’s planned new stadium will ease the financial burden on him.

Keyes has now ploughed a total of £2 million into the club by buying shares through the company he co-owns, Football Partners Scotland (FPS).

It is proof of his on-going commitment to the Dark Blues and a £500,000 increase on the earlier pledge – given via a club statement in March following an announced annual loss of £354,000 – that: “The board intend to issue additional shares to a value of £1.5m and this will make FPS the holder of 75 per cent of the equity. ”

The latest transaction is unrelated to the planned ground development at Camperdown but the American has revealed how he sees the venue providing future funding for the football operation and thereby eventually easing the pressure on his own pocket.

Keyes and Dark Blues managing director John Nelms, who is also part of FPS, believe all obstacles to the proposed ground at Camperdown have now been removed, with Transport Scotland understood to have given the green light after concerns over access were addressed.

In a wide-ranging interview with Courier Sport, Keyes admitted his involvement in Dundee has cost more than initially expected but reiterated his long-term commitment to something he described as being “like a member of the family.”

At the heart of Keyes’ long-term strategy is the “Campy Nou” scheme which, although the two companies – venue and football club – will be separate entities, he believes will provide a secure and regular income stream for the team.

He is also confident the stadium will benefit the city as a whole and not just the dark blue part of it by bringing people in to attend concerts, conventions and the like.

Keyes said: “Long term we have plans for the stadium and the training ground, which will put us in an elite group of clubs in Scotland.

“If we get those plans through then it will fuel the club for the next 10 to 20 years.

“It is going to be far more than just a football stadium. It is going to be an event arena and provide something the city of Dundee doesn’t have at the moment.

“The stadium project is important but if, for some reason it didn’t happen, it wouldn’t sway our commitment to the club.

“The stadium is separate to the club and the vast majority of time is spent on football club matters.

“It’s obviously not our preference to keep putting money into the club, we would like to see it be profitable or break even.

“The new stadium will be part of that, hopefully that will help it grow.

“The money hopefully coming in from that would help fund the club in future. That will help the club become self-sufficient.

“In the long term that will stop the money coming out of the Keyes pocket because the rest of these things – concerts, conferences, the retail outlets – will generate the money.

“The way we see it is that one business will support the other.

“While the stadium is being built, it won’t affect the (playing) budget here because that’s separate.

“But if it does happen, then the playing budget would go up in the long-term because of the revenue we would be generating.”

Keyes and his family have been on the scene since 2013 and he admitted things haven’t quite gone as well as planned as regards cost and timescale.

However, he is going nowhere and, instead, insisted he has grown more and more attached to the club as each season has passed.

He said: “My enthusiasm is the same now as when we started this.

“That’s five years now and you learn as you go along.

“At the start this was a business investment in something that would be enjoyable as well.

“It is still enjoyable, although I have a hard time watching the games when I tune in from the United States because I’m so invested in it.

“I get anxious watching our games because I live or die by how the club does,” said the American who was a spectator at the Dark Blues’ first two matches of the Premiership season against St Mirren and Aberdeen.

“If I look back on where the club was five years ago when we came in and compare it to now, we’re light years away from what it was.

“We are up a division in the Premiership and the youth programme is much better.

“That has taken longer than we anticipated but there is real progress being made there. We have some phenomenal players coming through at the lower age levels.

“We have brought stability to the club, the financial statements are public so everyone can see the level of commitment the family have made.

“That was probably something we didn’t expect to do.

“Has it cost us more than we thought? I guess so. We put the initial investment in and probably naively thought that was it and off we go.

“But we are happy to support the club and we will continue to do that.

“There is a limit to what we can do, though.

“Financial fair play would come after us if we did anyway.

“When we first came in we looked at it more as an investment and in five or 10 years, we wondered: ‘Would get a return on it?’

“But now it has become more like a member of the family we are willing to support, rather than looking to get an investment back.

“We would like to (get a return on the investment) because we are business people at the end of the day. But it’s like having kid – you need to invest in them to make them succeed.

“So maybe this isn’t like some of the other investments we have because it’s a much different business to what we have.”