Dundee United legend Sean Dillon says the Tangerines’ financial struggles are a realisation of late chairman Eddie Thompson’s belief that the club is nothing without fans.
Terrors owner Mark Ogren has blamed a ban on supporters at stadiums and a lack of government support for their grim financial reading, saying things “could get messy”.
Former United captain Dillon – now a player-coach at Montrose – agrees with Ogren, stating former chief Thompson would have held the same belief.
“Hopefully we can get fans back in stadiums soon but, for now, I suppose these are the times we’re in right now,” the 37-year-old said.
“The fans at United are absolutely immense. The amount of season tickets that were sold, knowing they won’t get into the stadium, that alone tells you how much people care for their club.
“I would imagine the shop has been quite busy as well so fans that buy one jersey or buy a season ticket or donate £5, I take my hat off to them.
“Without them the club doesn’t exist and we’re seeing that right now.
“It’s been said for a long time. Eddie Thompson, the great man, said it – ‘without the fans, the club is nothing’ and, unfortunately, we’re seeing that now.
“We’re not getting fans in and the club is suffering massively.
“I’m desperate to see fans back in but, of course, everybody will have an argument as to why people are allowed into certain things and not others.
“What I will say is I feel lucky we’re still getting to play, for now, and that’s a huge thing. Hopefully we get some sort of normality soon.”
Players are paying the price too
Irish defender Dillon, who made over 300 appearances in tangerine from 2007-17, hopes the players don’t bear the brunt of fan frustration.
Dillo insists the United stars are just like anyone else as they weigh up their options in unprecedented times.
He said: “Everybody has their own different circumstances. That’s life.
“Everyone has their own issues, worries and problems and that’s in any walk of life, football is no different.
“That’s thing that bugs a lot of players, that people have this presumption about footballers or people that own businesses or clubs that they’ll be fine.
“They think ‘oh he’ll be grand’ or ‘he’s on a lot of money’ but that’s not always the case.
“And 20% is a big chunk of money for people. I know myself going on furlough during lockdown that can be a big hit.
“Every one of those players will be in a different scenario – I’ve no doubt there’ll be nobody the same.
“There will be one or two that are more comfortable and able to take the cut but there’ll be others that have just bought property or a car or had a kid.
“It’s the same as any other person, coronavirus or not.
“They’ll have to weigh up their options after being hit with this. They’ll need to get their heads around it and try to manage as best they can for now.
“I feel for them. I’ve been involved in football a long time and this kind of stuff is never easy – for players and staff.
“That’s not going to help the boys, me feeling sorry for them, but hopefully it can get back to normal sooner rather than later.
Eddie Thompson, the great man, said it – ‘without the fans, the club is nothing’ and, unfortunately, we’re seeing that now.
“Hopefully anyone that takes a cut can get back to full wages very soon.
“The club have had a reasonably successful time of late, getting promoted and starting the season well, so it’s frustrating to see this.
“Whatever decisions that are being made by the guys in charge, or have been made, over the last few months is because Covid-19 is having a big impact.”
Winning can be welcome distraction
Dillon was encouraged, however, by Micky Mellon’s side’s performance in a 2-1 win over Ross County on Saturday suggesting it would have been ‘a big boost’ to team morale.
He continued: “The fact they got a great win at home against Ross County on Saturday will, obviously, be a big boost.
“Things have been going quite well with the team sitting fifth at the moment, and I appreciate things are very tight in the league and there’s still a long way to go, but I think after 13 games now you have to be delighted with that.
“I would hope things aren’t going to change and the lads will continue to do the business on the pitch.
“You never really know how it’s going to pan out or how they’re going to react to the situation but, certainly, I’d like to see them back to normal very soon just focusing on the football.”
Dillon, who has been doing commentary on DUTV this season, admits his heart goes out to non-football staff at the club as they, no doubt, worry about their own futures amid the testing financial climate.
He added: “My heart goes out to the staff, absolutely.
“I know so many people who work at the club that are my mates now.
“I’ve become quite close with a number of them, particularly being back in that environment doing the DUTV stuff.
“I’m gutted for them and to see what’s happening but I hope things get turned around very quickly.”
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