New Dundee United owner’s American dream is founded on worthy motives, says Mike Martin

Dundee United fans have been reassured that new owner Mark Ogren has an American dream that is founded on worthy motives.

Outgoing Tannadice chairman Mike Martin insists the Minnesota-based businessman is the real deal and the right man to take the Tangerines back to the good times.

© DC Thomson
Mike Martin briefing the media on Dundee United’s new owner Mark Ogren.

Ogren has become the first foreign-based buyer of the club, securing all of the 85.61% shareholding previously in the hands of both Martin and fellow director Jimmy Fyffe.

The 56-year-old American is now the new chairman, with his son Scott also becoming a United director along with local duo Fyffe and David Dorward. Martin has left the boardroom.

On a historic day for United, Martin moved quickly to tell the supporters that they should not be fearful or concerned about Ogren, who has made the purchase through newly formed company OPG-4 UK Ltd.

Instead, they can look forward to forming a special relationship with him.

Martin said: “I think this is a very good day for Dundee United.

“It is hopefully the start of a bright future for the club.

© Mark Ogren/SNS
Mark Ogren is the new man in charge at Tannadice.

“I think the new ownership structure will provide the solid foundations that are needed, really, to help the club achieve its objectives and aspirations. Hopefully, that will be sooner rather than later.

“I would say two things to reassure fans.

“Firstly, in all of our conversations with Mark Ogren and his son Scott, who will also be coming on to the board, it became increasingly clear that their motives were precisely the sort of motives we wanted somebody to have in taking on United.

“By that I mean the role the club plays in the community, building on its history and the aspirations for the future. Really, it was about wishing to run the club properly in a very thoughtful, structured and professional way.

“Secondly, I would say that we are maintaining local links at the club. Both Jimmy Fyffe and David Dorward will stay on the board and will be the local board members.”

Martin revealed that they were quickly won over by the enthusiasm shown by the then prospective investor.

“We liked Mark’s style,” he said.

“We liked his aspirations, objectives, plans and thoughts for the club.

“He took a great interest in the club and in the broader Dundee area.

“He did a lot of homework on both the city and the club.

“He fully appreciated the rich history at United and he acknowledged the kind of passion and engagement level of our fanbase.

“I think he also saw great potential at the club and an opportunity to get it back where we all want it to be.

“I suppose the process started with the acquisition of the Thompson family shareholding, which was done in two chunks between November last year and the summer of this year.

“The intention was always to treat Jimmy (Fyffe) and my ownership of the club as being a stepping stone towards a better long-term solution.

“That long-term solution, for us, was one that provided the kind of proper financial infrastructure that would enable the club firstly to get back to where we want it to be and then secondly to grow from there and start competing at the top level in Scottish football again.

“That being one of our objectives we then entertained a number of approaches over the last 12 months or so and one of those was from Mark Ogren.

“It became clear during our discussions with Mark that he was a person who we thought would be a very good owner for Dundee United.

“That, therefore, culminated in the deal being done.”

Martin revealed that it was Ogren who instigated the move, saying: “He approached us. We didn’t approach anybody.

“Basically we were approached by a number of different individuals.

“Some of those, we had really short conversations with. We were unsure as to their motives and plans for the club.

“Others were realistic and therefore we had conversations with a variety of different people.”

It looks unlikely, at least initially, that Ogren will be staying Stateside, although fans were promised more details on the make-up of the boardroom in due course.

Martin said: “To be honest you would be better to talk to Mark about his precise plans for the structure that will run the club.”

Martin also played down the possibility of United’s Americans co-operating at some level with their compatriots, Tim Keyes and John Nelms, at Dundee.

Asked if there was anything tying the two sets of owners together, he declared: “There are no links.

“In terms of future opportunities to look at synergies between the two clubs that is very much down to Mark but we were very clear at the outset that there were no official or even unofficial links and no plans to do anything other than talk.”

So no plans to groundshare then?

He replied: “Again, that is something you will need to discuss with Mark but our understanding is that he sees great opportunities at Dundee United and intends to be very focused on pursuing them.

“He sees opportunities in a broader European context and sees Scotland as a good entry point into that European market.

“Within Scotland, Dundee United is still viewed as being a very attractive club with a huge amount of potential.”

Martin was then asked if manager Robbie Neilson had been kept informed and if he can expect a cash investment when the transfer window opens in under a fortnight’s time.

He said: “That, again, is a question for Mark.

“We are aware of some of his plans but I think he is best placed to articulate them and hopefully he will be able to do that very soon.”

Martin revealed that he has started the process of selling Gussie Park back to United.

He said: “The plan is that, in the long term, the club will reacquire that. Wheels are in motion for that to happen.”

He then took a look back on his short tenure as chairman, which began in March when he replaced Stephen Thompson.

Martin said: “I was willing to stay on in some capacity, either as a part equity owner or in some sort of executive role.

“Quite frankly, my needs or aspirations came a long way second to those of the club.

“What we were very concerned about was putting in place the right solution for the club and in this case it doesn’t involve me so I am happy to step back on that basis.

“It has been an absolute privilege.

“You all know I am a lifelong fan. My grandfather came from Dundee and I was brought up as a United fan and have been a passionate one all of my life.

“So to end up in the boardroom and then the chairman’s office was a bit of a dream come true for me.

“As well as feeling very privileged I have enjoyed every moment – the good times and the bad.

“I have worked hard, I think, and hopefully I leave it in a bit of a better state than when I took over.

“I will be back here as a fan, home and away.”