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5 Dundee United burning issues as Mark Ogren meets shareholders at Tannadice AGM

The Tangerines' annual general meeting takes place on Thursday.

Dundee United owner Mark Ogren has flown in from the US for the Tannadice club's AGM. Image: SNS
Dundee United owner Mark Ogren has flown in from the US for the Tannadice club's AGM. Image: SNS

Transfer deadline day would ordinarily provide enough intrigue and drama for one day.

However, Thursday also marks Dundee United’s annual general meeting (AGM), a matter of weeks after the club’s £2.8 million loss for the year ending June 2023 was laid bare.

Owner Mark Ogren will be present for the event, which takes place in Tannadice’s Lounge 87. And he is sure to find shareholders with plenty of queries.

Courier Sport analyses the burning issues ahead of the gathering.


Reflections and regrets

United have sought to move on from the trials and tribulations of last season.

Former sporting director Tony Asghar and ex-head of recruitment Sean McGee are among those to have left the club, while it is understood around £2m has been shaved off last season’s staggering wage bill of £6.9m.

Nevertheless, seeing the accounts for the year ending June 2023 would have been a stark moment for shareholders.

Former sporting director Tony Asghar. Image: SNS

The financial report has already stated that the “club and in particular the footballing department over-extended itself in expenditure”.

Nevertheless, it seems inevitable that shareholders will have more questions for Ogren regarding his overseeing of a business with an operating loss of £5 million.

Succession plan/dual ownership developments

With around £13m spent since Ogren’s arrival in December 2018 – and the American telling Courier Sport in August 2023 that he likely has more years behind him as owner than ahead of him – it raises questions about succession.

Does Ogren expect to recoup his investment? If so, how? Or would he be willing to write off a portion of the debt owed to himself to facilitate a sale in the future?

Moreover, the Scottish FA giving the green light to Bill Foley taking a minority stake in Hibernian is a fascinating development – and one that will give many clubs in Scotland food for thought.

Hibs’ Easter Road stadium, where Bournemouth owner Bill Foley has taken a stake. Image: SNS

On the surface, United would seem like an attractive proposition; a large, engaged fanbase, recent experience of European football, laudable heritage, undeniably the sixth-biggest team in Scotland.

Could this be an avenue Ogren and United could seek to pursue now that an intriguing precedent has been set?

Structure and recruitment

Boss Jim Goodwin and CEO Luigi Capuano deserve plenty of credit for a couple of very solid transfer windows.

Amid understandable belt-tightening, they have assembled a very capable squad and, Ollie Denham aside, there have been few failures among their signings; not something that could be said last term.

It is more laudable given that United are working with a very limited scouting and recruitment operation following the travails of last season – Asghar and McGee being the most notable of the departures.

Luigi Capuano pictured at Tannadice Park
Dundee United chief executive Luigi Capuano. Image: DC Thomson/Kim Cessford

However, it would be fair to surmise that, should the Tangerines win promotion, relying on Goodwin and Capuano’s contacts would be unsustainable. To say nothing of what would happen if they were to leave.

So, are plans already in motion to rebuild that department?

Similarly, does the commitment to the academy and women’s teams remain as strong as ever despite testing financial times?

The future of Tannadice

The semi-regular talking point of a potential ground-share with city rivals Dundee reared its head recently.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn noted he would back such an arrangement between his beloved United and the Dee if it made financial sense for both clubs.

But with no tangible suggestion that either side would welcome such an extreme move, a more pressing issue is the future of Tannadice, a stadium with substantial overheads.

The bumper crowd at Tannadice for Dundee United vs Raith Rovers
Dundee United fans have fed back their opinions on Tannadice to the club. Image: SNS

The club concluded a survey of supporters last month, with a view to collating the fan experience – while also canvassing fans on their willingness to help support future upgrades of the ground.

The response was positive, albeit most Arabs provided the substantial caveat that they would want to see concrete proposals first.

Tannadice’s upkeep could very well be an issue on shareholders’ minds.

What if Dundee United don’t go up?

It is an outcome that United daren’t consider.

Then again, there also seem to be a refusal to countenance relegation last season – and look how that turned out.

Shareholders will be keen for reassurance that United have a plan if the worst-case scenario comes to pass and they are consigned to another campaign in the Championship.

United certainly benefit from the fact that a swathe of senior players are out of contract in the close season, affording an immediate avenue to trim the budget.

Nevertheless, the financial repercussions for a club that just posted a £2.8 million loss would be grim.

Dundee United owner Mark Ogren was at the recent Dunfermline game.
Dundee United owner Mark Ogren in the Tannadice directors’ box in August 2023. Image: SNS

Speaking in that interview in August (Ogren is not undertaking any media duties while in Scotland on this occasion), he was coy regarding the dangers of a prolonged stay in the second tier.

He noted: “There will be some fans saying: ‘Don’t you remember the last time? We were down there for four years?’” Well, if we are down there for four years then, yes, it becomes a real issue.”

With Jim Goodwin doing a good job at the helm and United leading the Championship pack, Ogren and the rest of the Tannadice board will hope that proves to be a hypothetical concern.

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