Mood of ‘hope and optimism’ among Dundee United fans as Mark Ogren era begins

DUSF founders Graham McLelland, Martin Manzi, John Gibson and Mike Evans.
DUSF founders Graham McLelland, Martin Manzi, John Gibson and Mike Evans.

There is now a mood of “hope and optimism” among Dundee United fans thanks to the purchase of the club by Mark Ogren.

That is the belief of the Dundee United Supporters’ Foundation, who have struck an upbeat note and asked for the troubled last three years to be “consigned to the history books.”

The American businessman became the first foreign owner of the Tangerines this week after snapping up the combined 85.6% shareholding of now former chairman Mike Martin and director Jimmy Fyffe.

As dawn breaks on Ogren’s reign at Tannadice, the DUSF is determined to foster a “fantastic partnership” with the new US-controlled board and has asked for a meeting with Ogren when he arrives in Scotland next month.

The Foundation’s goal is to provide an “enduring long-term financial input into our football club” and they hope this can be achieved in the post-Stephen Thompson/Mike Martin era.

They have gone back 60 years to show how United can be renewed, drawing comparisons between the renowned Taypools scheme and what they hope can be a bright future that has the supporters at the heart of the club.

In a statement to members, the DUSF declared: “In 1959, Dundee United were sitting near the bottom of the second division, the third worst team in Scotland.

“What followed over the next seven years was a remarkable transformation that saw the team promoted and become firmly established at the top level of Scottish football.

“European football with famous victories over Barcelona and Juventus followed.

“The foundation for that unprecedented success was largely down to the foresight, wisdom and financial input from United board members at that time including Ernest Robertson, Johnstone Grant, George Fox, Jimmy Littlejohn and Duncan Hutchison. The prudent appointment of Jerry Kerr as manager was a major factor in the club’s fast progression.

“However, just as important was the ground-breaking launch of the Dundee United Sportsmen’s Club by the board.

“Fans, by becoming members, could contribute to the Taypools scheme which became a rich source of funds enabling United to sign better players and helping to finance major ground improvements. This was the first supporter/boardroom partnership of its kind in Scottish football.

“Fast forward…to January 2015 and United are sitting second top of the Premier League and Celtic await in the League Cup final.

“February 2nd, and in the final hours of the transfer window, Celtic succeed in their pursuit of Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven despite United fans being reassured that this would not happen.

“This was the first of a catalogue of disastrous board decisions, both on the business side and football side, that catapulted the club on a trajectory more spectacular than that of the sixties, but in the wrong direction.

“This calamitous period culminated in relegation and the club teetering on the edge of a financial precipice,” the statement added.

“The actions, and in some cases inaction, by some of the people in control or in positions of power at the club over this time were inexcusable.

“During this terrible period we, the supporters, have been confused, concerned, anxious and justifiably angry.

“However, to their eternal credit the fans have continued to support the team in numbers, particularly under new manager Robbie Neilson. That is the last comment we will make on the previous ownership of our club.

“For the first time in many years there is now a mood of hope and optimism, and we need to draw a line under the last four years and consign them to the history books so we can all work together to get the club back to where we all want it to be.

“To hopefully kick-start that we will be in contact with all the major fan groups in the new year to discuss and agree how we can work better together in the future.

“With the very welcome announcement on Wednesday of new ownership at the club we fervently hope we have reached the nadir and that we can start a road to recovery just like the sixties.

“We firmly believe the Foundation, just like Taypools, can facilitate a fantastic partnership between the boardroom and the supporters that every successful football club must have.

“We are looking forward to welcoming Mark Ogren and his son Scott and introducing them to the benefits a strong Foundation can bring and we will seek an early meeting with them.

“We are delighted the uncertainty is over, and very much want to work with the new owners and the directors, Jimmy Fyffe and David Dorward, to discuss how the Foundation could assist in providing a targeted investment so that we can put a proposal to our members.

“Finally we would ask every United fan to consider joining the Foundation as it needs your support to thrive.

“This new phase in our history is an opportunity to put in place a structure to ensure that what happened to our football club over the last three years can never happen again.

“The new era starts (today) and we are sure United fans will back the team in volume and numbers as we look to get our promotion push back on track.”