Tony Asghar believes a ‘sceptical’ section of the Dundee United fanbase have ‘trust issues’.
Asghar acknowledges that he is yet to win over a portion of the Tannadice faithful, with the sporting director becoming a lightning rod for criticism in recent weeks prior to — and after — the appointment of Tam Courts as new head coach.
Some fans were irked by what they perceived as a narrow search for Micky Mellon’s successor, while the financial stability of the club remains a hot-button topic despite Asghar’s repeated assurances.
However, Asghar has sought to assure punters that he and owner Mark Ogren only have the best interests of United at heart.
Asghar said: “Dundee United fans are in a very precarious position because they have had a lot of success, but a lot of hurt and — while I wouldn’t call them ‘jilted lovers’ — they have had crosses to bear and there are a lot of trust issues.
“Mark [Ogren] won them over initially with how he put his money in. With myself, there are still trust issues there.
“But my job is to continue with the plan and get to where we want to be, so the fans can have a club they can be proud of. I understand they are sceptical and that could take time.
Members Update pic.twitter.com/62ob4cLJAZ
— Federation of Dundee United Supporters (@feddusc) June 17, 2021
“Myself and Mark Ogren need to continue to create success so that eventually there will be buy-in.
“There is buy-in from a lot of the fans — but there is a faction who don’t trust anyone who is coming into Dundee United Football Club. I want to allay their fears and say we are only here for the good of the football club.”
Asghar, speaking to the Press Box podcast, was bullish regarding the prospect of turning United into a self-sustaining, profitable operation, despite the club recently posting a £3m loss for the year ending June 2020.
He is adamant there is an untapped market — particularly commercially — which has attracted the likes of Ogren, his Dundee counterparts Tim Keyes and John Nelms, and Hibs’ Ron Gordon to Scotland.
Asghar continued: “It’s only in this country where we say: ‘Oh, you are putting your money down a black hole’. Why do people keep investing then?
“A lot of people are buying football clubs outside the bigger markets. That is because they see the benefits of creating an organisation here.
“There is no doubt Scottish football needs to create a bigger marketing process. We are probably sitting at our lowest ebb commercially compared to where we should be, so there is a lot of room for growth.
“We need to look at football in Scotland from a business perspective as well as a performance perspective — and I don’t think it’s as bad as people make out.”
Derby day in Dundee
Among the more marketable, thrilling aspects of the game on these shores are the ferocious derbies, and Dundee United are relishing the return of their showdowns with Dundee next term.
Asghar added: “This city is huge and the oneupmanship between the clubs is massive. I never really realised how big it was until we played each other in the three derbies in the Championship.
“I hadn’t even been to a Dundee derby before and I know, while the supporters want success, I know they also want to beat Dundee.
“It’s a very competitive league now. Hearts and Dundee are back in the league. Aberdeen are our fierce rivals and St Johnstone are another of our rivals. Dundee United seem to be the club in Scotland that everyone seems to have an issue with!
“There seems to be a rivalry every time we play a team, so that’s the perfect club for me. I’m up for that fight and that challenge.”