Dundee were last night defiantly trying to defuse a row over allegations they illegally approached St Mirren in an attempt to lure Jack Ross to Dens Park instead of the returning Neil McCann.
Earlier this week McCann had told the Tayside club that he wouldn’t be staying long-term following his brief and successful spell as interim manager at the end of last season, and that prompted an approach for Ross.
John Nelms, Dundee’s managing director, last night stood firm and insisted that his club had done nothing wrong in their pursuit of Ross, having personally flown to Europe after St Mirren had denied them permission to talk with their manager.
McCann, in a stunning twist, performed a U-turn on Thursday, agreeing to give up his lucrative post as a Sky Sports pundit and take on the reigns on a permanent basis at Dens. Dundee subsequently halted their search for a new manager and the club’s hierarchy are adamant that at no point have they broken any rules.
“We had started having conversations about him [McCann] becoming manager while he was interim manager,” explained Nelms.
“There are several things that are involved and he had to take time to make a proper decision. Almost from day one I realised he was having a change of heart. It’s in his blood. He wants to be a football manager.”
Nelms continued: “I approached several candidates and Jack was certainly on our radar but there were five or six others on the shortlist too. I went to Europe and I spoke to candidates and agents in regards to players that we are looking at as targets.
“I did approach St Mirren. They did not give permission. But that’s not the rule. It’s not correct. They are after one of our players at the moment so I can talk to him [Ross] as many times as I like as long as I’m not inducing him to take a job.”
McCann, who steered Dundee away from the threat of relegation at the foot of the Premiership in his few games in charge last term, said: “This is a very attractive job and I’d be pretty ignorant person if I thought I was the only guy that had been spoken to.
“I’m pretty sure there would have been a long list of quality names wanting this job but the dialogue was always there.
“John always knew, even though I said I had to go back to Sky, there might have been a wee thing at the back of my mind I could change and come and be the Dundee manager.”