A statement on behalf of Mitchell was released by an Edinburgh-based PR firm rather than by the club, where her brother Stephen is chairman. United did later confirm the news, adding that the matter would be discussed at a “previously arranged” board meeting on Monday. It is understood the club were given no warning of Mitchell’s intentions and no reasons have been given for her sudden decision to step away.
A statement from Elaine Howie PR had earlier stated: “Justine Mitchell today resigned as a director of Dundee United Football Club with immediate effect.
“Mrs Mitchell remains a shareholder and fan and is committed to her work with the community and Dundee United Women’s Football Team.”
Mitchell confirmed the news on Twitter, saying she had “resigned as director of Dundee Utd. I remain a shareholder, fan & am committed to my work with the community & DUWFC”. Her Twitter biographical details now include no mention of an official involvement at the club in which she owns a 33 per cent stake. Her personal page states merely she is “an avid fan”.
The news has rocked a club already operating amid uncertainty. Dundee United are currently eight points adrift at the bottom of the Premiership.
Mitchell first joined the board in 2008, when her father Eddie Thompson, who bought the club in 2002, put plans in place for the future running of the club as he continued to battle cancer.
At the time she was thought to be in line to become chairperson, a role currently occupied by her brother Stephen. But the death of her husband Ken, just three days before her father died in 2008, saw Mitchell take a backseat in the affairs of the club.
Once described as a “tough cookie” by her father, Mitchell trained as a lawyer and now runs a spa business in Edinburgh. But she has increased her involvement at the club recently, and is a high-profile supporter of the recently formed Dundee United women’s football team.
She also sent a tweet from Hampden on Saturday praising United fans for attending the defeat by Hibs in such high numbers after a trying season. There are now six remaining directors at the club, including Cath, Justine and Stephen’s mother and honorary president.