The Dundee managing director revealed that he is in regular contact with Steve Brown, the Perth club’s chairman. There was a time when Dundee fans would baulk at such talk of wishing to emulate their Tayside neighbours.
Not any longer. Now every club in the land, including Celtic and Rangers, should be noting what St Johnstone are doing at present. Dundee are no different. They long to experience the success which has seen St Johnstone land two trophies this season as well as secure European football through their league position. They are also enjoying their 12th successive season in the top flight, in marked contrast to Dundee’s recent history.
“I talk to Steve Brown quite often and watching him at the weekend he was in tears,” said Nelms. “That’s how much that meant to him. To do the (cup) double is like Leicester winning the league.
"We have bigger ambitions than just staying in the league,” Nelms added. “We want to be in the top six. St Johnstone are the marker for all of us and we want to win some silverware. We will take a breath, reset and start again.”
Nelms will appreciate that Dundee fans have heard such promises before. The Dens Park side have been relegated on three occasions this millennium. Kilmarnock, the club they have replaced, demonstrated what’s possible by remaining a fixture in the top flight for nearly 30 years.
Dundee are at least enjoying a period of stability in terms of ownership. Nelms and United States-based owner Tim Keyes have been involved since 2013. Although they have been the subject of criticism - with Nelms a particular target following last summer’s about-turn when voting to curtail the league - no one could argue that they have not provided support for managers, the latest of which is James McPake.
Dundee’s form picked up after funds were provided to sign Jason Cummings and Paul McMullan, with the latter setting up two of Dundee’s four goals in the play-off final victory over Kilmarnock.
“We will have a look at that (re-strengthening) but we have never starved our manager of finances,” said Nelms. “Within reason we will do what we have to do and try to build a proper, sound, stable team. Being in the Championship really laser focuses your attention as did being in the middle of a pandemic. We never want to be back in the Championship again. It is a hard slog to get out of this league and we don't want to be there.
“We are always trying to learn to make sure we don't make those mistakes again. We will try to do things a different way and the right way.”
Nelms commiserated with Kilmarnock, who must now deal with the financial reconfiguration that comes with relegation. “I have been there. It is the worst feeling,” he said. “Right now they have to take a step back and re-evaluate what they are going to do. They are a big club and they will want to come right back up but you have to graft.”