Dundee United have learned harsh lessons from their dismal financial and footballing campaign last season and taken steps to ensure there will be no repeat.
That was the message as owner Mark Ogren and his executive board addressed shareholders at the Terrors’ annual general meeting (AGM) on Thursday.
United posted a loss of £2.8 million in accounts for the year ending June 2023. Those figures could have been worse but for Harry Souttar’s £15 million move to Leicester earning the club a sell-on fee of around £2.1m.
An eye-watering wage bill of £6.9 million contributed to an operating loss of £5 million.
And club chiefs sought at Thursday’s meeting to underline that personnel and strategies HAVE changed as a direct consequence of a lamentable season, on and off the pitch.
Ogren, meanwhile, assured fans that his exit is not imminent, and he remains engaged and determined to lead United back to the Premiership.
One year later
United’s 2023 AGM provided a focal point for the mounting anger and exasperation of anxious Arabs.
Supporters gathered outside Tannadice, with a banner reading “Asghar Out” – aimed at former sporting director Tony Asghar – flapping in the breeze.
Inside the building, owner Ogren expressed his faith in Asghar and ex-head coach Liam Fox. The looming prospect of relegation was seemingly still seen as a remote one by the decision-makers.
Within a month, Asghar and Fox would be gone and a 4-0 defeat at Ross County would cement the Tangerines’ status as bona fide favourites for the drop. And so it came to pass.
There were no protests, no visceral seethe; just shareholders in attendance inside Tannadice’s Lounge 87 to hear from a top table of Ogren, chief executive Luigi Capuano, chief operating officer Joe Rice and financial director James Robertson.
Fellow directors Jimmy Fyffe and Scott Ogren were absent due to long-standing personal engagements.
The accounts were ratified without a hitch. Ogren owns 85.6% of the company, making that a formality. But the numbers are no less stark than when they were first released earlier this month.
Culpability and change
During the Q&A portion of the AGM, there were understandable questions regarding culpability and consequences following last season’s travails.
It was emphasised that several individuals leaving their position – Asghar and head of recruitment Sean McGee being the highest profile, but not the only, examples – was indicative of United recognising their mistakes.
The message was that changes have been implemented and, should United win promotion to the Premiership, they will approach it in a sustainable manner. The wage bill has already been cut by £2.5 million.
Ogren did, however, say that United’s overspend was not solely down to poor budget control. Failing to meet their footballing targets – namely a top-six finish – also played a major part in the loss.
What does the future hold?
The Minnesota-based businessman also sought to expand upon his comments to Courier Sport last August that he had “more years behind him than in front of him” as owner.
While not incorrect, Ogren was keen to make it clear that he is NOT actively seeking to sell the club immediately.
It was confirmed that the Tangerines’ ongoing commitment to its academy – which accounts for around £5 million of Ogren’s investment since December 2018 – remains unshaken.
Talks will continue will supporters’ groups with a view to enhancing and improving the experience at Tannadice in the aftermath of a recent survey.
More than 5,600 season tickets were sold for this season, while United’s average home attendance is 7,391 – the sixth highest in Scotland.
And towards the conclusion of the meeting Ogren emphasised his appreciation for the phenomenal support United have received this season, particularly following a galling, maddening 2022/23.