Mark Ogren has owned Dundee United for three years but has been forced to manage club affairs from his US base for almost half that time.
Ogren was unable to travel to Scotland for 18 months and didn’t even meet former United boss Micky Mellon face-to-face due to a Covid-imposed transatlantic flight ban.
He watched games on TV and the internet and conducted meetings over Zoom, phone or by email after being grounded 3,500 miles away from Tannadice.
But it’s never been a case of “out of sight, out of mind” for Ogren. Far from it.
It’s more like “absence makes the heart grow fonder”.
Dundee United fans’ passion convinced Ogren to buy club
And his imposed absence from Tannadice is helping him understand why some Dundee United fans base their entire existence around the club.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people saying that Dundee United is their life,” said Ogren.
“One of the reasons we bought the club in the first place was because of the passion within European football.
“But to me, at Dundee United, it’s at a different level.
“People just love their football and love their club.
“On any given day they may not be happy with the result and you’ll hear about that.
“Even if it’s negative they are showing their passion for the club and that’s all we can ask for. We love the passion of our fans.”
Mark Ogren: I want to enjoy Dundee United
Ogren insists he and his son Scott are fully committed to a long-term project at Dundee United.
He previously owned two baseball clubs – Mankato Moondogs and Sioux Falls Canaries.
He was also was part of an investment group that owned ice hockey side Sioux Falls Stampede.
But Ogren has pulled out of all three organisations to focus his attentions entirely on United.
And he insists he is at United for the long haul.
“We came in almost three years ago with a plan and we are on that path,” added Ogren. “I’m very, very pleased.
“We have done a lot but still have a lot of work left to do.
“Day by day, we are improving at all levels and aspects throughout the club. It’s evident on the pitch and throughout our structure.
“We’re very, very pleased and I think our fans are too.
“When I come over I engage with a lot of fans and there’s a lot of positivity around the club right now.
“I wasn’t able to come over for a year-and-a-half. I still haven’t even owned the club for three years and for half of that I couldn’t even come over.
“That was really difficult.
“When you buy a club like this you want to be able to enjoy it.
Mark Ogren regrets being unable to meet Micky Mellon
“It’s hard to enjoy it from afar when you are trying to watch the games on TV or on a computer.
“You are trying to engage with people over Zoom, over the phone or via email.
“There are players and coaches who have come and gone from the club that I was never even able to meet.
“That’s horrible. I feel bad about that.
“Micky Mellon came and went without me even meeting him face-to-face. I obviously met him over Zoom but it’s not the same.
“You want to develop a relationship with people who are working at the club. It’s good for me and it’s good for them to be able to sit down and actually talk.
“It’s good to even talk about things outside of football. That helps you develop a relationship and get to know them. You just can’t do that over Zoom.
“We’ve been involved with three other sports franchises back in the United States but are out of all of those.
“That means this is our complete focus.
“There is a lot of work to do and we are on a journey and we are really enjoying that journey.
Motivational afternoon @BaldragonAcad as we welcomed @dundeeunitedfc @dufcacademy Chair Mark Ogren, Vice-Chair Scott Ogren, Sporting Director Tony Asghar & Academy Director Andy Goldie to discuss the impact, & the great things to come to our school, as a result of our partnership pic.twitter.com/ynR5lzzcfK
— Baldragon Academy Headteacher (@Baldragon_HT) September 25, 2021
“Will fans see me more? I hope so.
“God willing, if the government allows us to travel then I’ll be over.
“I love being over in Scotland. That’s part of the reason why we bought the club.
“A big part of the enjoyment is being over here to be engaged with the players, coaches and the staff. That’s why we are doing it and we love it.”