Dundee are set for a summer of turmoil after three directors resigned from the board yesterday, meaning only three directors, all representing the Dundee FC Supporters Society [DFCSS], remain in situ at the Dens Park club.
Bill Colvin, Steve Martin and finance director Ian Crichton have quit the six-man board over the DFCSS’s refusal to accept an investment offer that would have maintained the fans’ group’s status as single biggest shareholders.
The three remaining directors, interim chairman Dave Forbes, Fraser MacDonald and Maurice Kidd, have become the target of disapproval from some fans, with a DFCSS meeting scheduled for Dens Park on Saturday. Supporters are angry that a proposed investment by a group including two American-based business partners has been withdrawn, after the three representatives on the board from the DFCSS, which owns a majority shareholding in the club, asked the consortium to again postpone the deadline for the £650,000 offer. The deadline had already been extended to tomorrow from last Friday.
The DFCSS wanted to conduct further due diligence, after complaining that they had still not received details of the three-year business plan that the consortium had proposed. They also wanted more than £100,000 paid up front to cover the cost of due diligence as well as allowing manager John Brown to put in plans for the coming season, when Dundee will seek to gain promotion back to the Scottish Premier League from the First Division.
That request has been deemed unacceptable by the consortium, two of whom, Colvin and Martin, were directors at Dundee. Both Colvin and Martin have now resigned. Crichton has also tendered his resignation, having described the board’s response to the investment offer as “embarrassing”. Dundee must also now look to quickly appoint another financial director to replace Crichton, in line with Scottish Football Association regulations.
Colvin, the Surrey-based businessman who helped fund the club’s emergence from administration in 2010, was also angered by the board’s response to the latest offer. The DFCSS directors on the Dundee board proposed that Colvin’s group consider purchasing 22 DFC 50 bond memberships at a cost of £5,000 each, to provide funds to be used “at the club board’s discretion” and to cover the cost of due diligence.
Colvin had been prepared to invest a six figure sum from his own funds in addition to the £500,000 being put up by Tim Keyes, the American-based founder of an equity firm called Keyes Capital. After he and Martin had themselves made a fact-finding trip to the States, Colvin is understood to have felt insulted that the Dundee board wanted to engage in a further protracted period of due diligence.
Ten years ago tomorrow, Dundee took part in the Scottish Cup final against Rangers, a game they narrowly lost 1-0. Since then, the club have been in administration twice. After Aberdeen businessman Calum Melville walked away three years ago after promises of investment, circumspection is to be expected from Dundee, but some supporters have accused the board of dragging their heels, to the point that the chance of securing much needed income, it seems, has been lost.
“We are quite happy to accept investment, we are not frightened of it,” said Dave Forbes, the DFCSS interim chairman, yesterday. “But we need to be assured that it is legitimate and above board.”
John Nelms, Keyes’ Texas-based business partner, spoke last week of wishing to create a football academy at Dundee, one with links to his own academy at the Dynamo Juniors of Central Texas football club, which runs teams for more than 700 children in Austin. It is understood that he has now been contacted by as many as seven other British clubs – three from Scotland – who are interested in joining forces with the investors.
One of the three remaining Dundee directors last night described the news of his colleagues’ resignations as a “bombshell”. Maurice Kidd said that he “got a phone call at 7am” before turning on his computer on to find out the news that Colvin, Martin and Crichton had resigned, and the proposed deal was off the table. “What I would say is that I would strongly urge the other three directors to consider their position,” said Kidd.
“I would like to see them come back round the table and bring stability to the club. The dialogue has to continue. I personally emailed Bill Colvin and still feel the proposal on the table can be progressed.
“If there is a bit of understanding on both sides we can still get round the table and progress the deal, so I was very disappointed to find out they had resigned.”
Scot Gardiner, the current chief executive, is understood to be willing to remain in place for the time being. John Brown, who signed a two-year deal in April after being handed the interim post of manager two months earlier, was at the club yesterday meeting the parents of Under 12 and Under 13 players. He has expressed his desire to remain as manager, despite the uncertainty.