Marr brothers promise to write off Dundee debts

THE Marr brothers have promised they will write off all the money they put into Dundee before the club was placed into administration.

Peter Marr, who was the club’s chief executive before administrator Ernst and Young took over last week, confirmed yesterday the Bank of Scotland is owed 13.5million of the club’s 20million debt. The rest is shared by other creditors, with Peter and his brother Jimmy accounting for the largest part, ahead of Ivano Bonetti, unpaid players and sundry other creditors.

Marr has not clarified how much the brothers stand to lose, describing his investment as "seven figures plus".

Marr answered 100 questions from concerned fans on the club’s official website yesterday. He could offer no promises that Dundee will survive, and said money from a sale of remaining players in January remains crucial to the club’s future.

Marr admitted a report being compiled by administrator Tom Burton will hold the answer to the most important question of them all - the club’s viability.

"The major portion of the debt is the 13.5million owed to the Bank of Scotland," said Marr. "The next biggest element is the money Jimmy and I have put in over the years.

"We have no intention of taking that out and do not see it as ‘debt’. Any debt due to Jimmy and myself will be written off completely.

"For the purposes of administration, however, Mr Burton has to consider it as part of the overall figure of debt.

"Jimmy and I are continuing to put substantial sums of money into the club to fund it through administration. But with respect, the way we do that is a private matter for us. We are not just sitting back."

But when asked if he would be willing to sell off parts of his other businesses to pay off part of Dundee’s debts, Marr said he is not prepared to go to such lengths.

"We will not sell any other business or property," said Marr, who also said groundsharing with Dundee United should be considered as a possible way of reducing costs and debts at both Dens and Tannadice.

However, he also confessed the sale of the ground would not cure all ills. "Dens is only a valuable asset if it is a football stadium," he said.

The Marrs’ original plan was to recruit talented foreign players and then sell them on at a profit.

That worked with Claudio Caniggia, who was bought by Rangers, but failed when incorrectly-filed paperwork meant the Ibrox outfit were able to snare Zura Khizanishvili for nothing this summer.

Giorgi Nemsadze, Beta Carranza, Juan Sara and Fabian Caballero all won admirers during their time at Dens but attracted no buyers - and they were all sacked earlier in the week along with 21 other employees.

Marr said the club was wrecked by the downturn in the transfer market across the world of football.

He said: "There were too many footballing staff on the club’s books. Although the market had collapsed, the club was committed to major contracts to players that were extremely difficult to cancel or re-negotiate.

"We had a lot of players out of contract at the end of the season when we knew we could substantially reduce our wage bill and we were hoping to get to that position.

"Unfortunately we got to a situation where we had to act quickly to prevent the club being liquidated.

"The administrators were called in because the Inland Revenue had sent a letter to the club threatening to petition for winding up - and, after discussions with other board members, the board made the decision to call in the administrators."

The weeks before that saw colourful and often controversial lawyer Giovanni di Stefano arrive on the scene.

Di Stefano agreed to pay the wages for new signings Fabrizio Ravanelli and Craig Burley - but neither player was paid in full and they were sacked last week as well.

Marr admits that bringing Di Stefano on board was a gamble which did not pay off.

He said: "The club offered him an opportunity to fulfil the promises he made publicly - but unfortunately they did not come to fruition. We then had no option but to act to save Dundee Football Club."

Di Stefano’s involvement puzzled many fans and worried others, but Marr insists he was correct to give the newcomer a chance. He said: "Everybody has to take people at face value and give them time to act on their promises."

Meanwhile, Dundee supporters have launched a campaign to help save the club.

Under the banner "Dee 4 Life" the Dundee Supporters Association, the Dundee Development Club and staff from the football club itself will work together over the next few weeks to deliver a carefully planned range of fund-raising and awareness-raising initiatives.

A campaign website has been set up - - and a special bank account opened to allow supporters and well-wishers to make donations to the fighting fund.

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