DUNDEE United chairman Stephen Thompson has assured supporters that the on-loan capture of former striker David Goodwillie is not the end of the club’s pre-season signing activity.
It is hoped that a move described as a “bold financial decision” by one Tannadice director will help stimulate season ticket sales at United. Thompson has promised that the entire summer’s budget has not been consumed in order to attract Goodwillie back from Blackburn Rovers.
The initial six-month loan move includes an option to extend it should United wish to. The deal represents a good piece of business for the Tannadice club, who sold the striker to Rovers two years ago for an initial fee of £2 million. He had made 136 appearances for United, scoring 40 times. However, Goodwillie found the going harder at a club being ripped apart by internal strife, and he played only 28 times, scoring five goals.
“I am delighted to confirm he is coming back,” said Thompson. “He was obviously a star player for us, and one of the star players in the SPL when he headed south. We look forward to him coming back.”
Thompson eased the fears of those who questioned the financial viability of bringing in a player who commanded a significant wage hike when he left United for Blackburn. “The manager and I set a budget and it’s within budget,” said Thompson. “The details are private obviously.
“We are still looking to bring in one, if not two, others. The club has stated its ambition. Now the fans need to back the club with season tickets.”
“It is a pretty good bit of business,” added Thompson.
On the question of why Goodwillie did not fare better at Blackburn, he said: “You would be better asking him rather than me.” The striker is set to be unveiled tomorrow at United’s training base in St Andrews. Goodwillie is a more than adequate replacement for Johnny Russell, who joined Derby County earlier this summer in a £750,000 deal.
“We always wish all players who leave here all the best – and that includes Jon Daly for that matter,” said Thompson, with reference to the former club captain, who moved to Rangers last month on freedom of contract.
Some will perceive Goodwillie to have failed in England, where the 24-year-old never really settled. “Things don’t always work out the way you want them to,” noted Thompson. “But if he comes back and plays half as well as before, we will be delighted. He just has to knuckle down and work hard. I know that he is buzzing to come back.
“Other than Celtic and Hearts, few clubs have brought in any money in transfer fees over the last three to four years,” he added. “We have brought in £3.1 million between Johnny Russell, Scott Allan and Goodwillie – that’s halved the debt in four years. And we still have a team on the park.”
United manager Jackie McNamara described himself as “very excited” by the signing. “We are not only getting an experienced international player, but we are also getting someone who has a special affinity with the United fans,” he said.
“I am striving to improve Dundee United in both the short and long term and adding a player of David’s quality will help achieve that. He has all the attributes needed by a striker and it will be a major boost for the club to have him here.
“The signing will also excite the supporters,” he added. “We have asked them to be patient and trust us this summer and they have. A lot of hard work was done behind the scenes to ensure this deal went through and I have to praise the board who gave the financial backing to this deal.”
The club hope that the fans will now respond to the positive news by purchasing season tickets. “In working on this deal for several weeks we have listened to what the fans have said,” said director Derek Robertson. “After contacting a large number of fans who have still to renew their season ticket it was apparent that many were awaiting some exciting transfer news.
“It doesn’t get much more exciting than this and I hope these fans will now come out and support the club’s efforts. The chairman has taken a bold financial decision and we need the fans to back the club accordingly.
“The signing shows the calibre of player the manager is looking to add to the squad, but in order to do so, we need to encourage more season ticket sales.”