Dundee United’s new chairman, Mike Martin, has assured supporters he’s not a mere carbon copy of predecessor Stephen Thompson as he seeks to galvanise the turbulent Tayside club under his leadership.
Martin spoke publicly for the first time yesterday after replacing departed Thompson, who stood down last week following almost ten years at the helm with the club in a disappointing fourth place in the Championship.
Martin, who also insisted Csaba Laszlo’s position as manager was not in doubt despite a recent run of wretched results, has acquired over 30 per cent shareholding at Tannadice while also purchasing the nearby GA Arena and bringing a wealth of financial and corporate expertise to the table.
With Thompson planning to relinquish his influence at the club altogether in the coming months, United are bracing themselves for sweeping changes within the boardroom and Edinburgh-born Martin has insisted he’ll act quite differently from the former chairman.
Martin said: “The very first thing I would say is that I’m my own man.
“I’m not Stephen Thompson – I’m Mike Martin and while I’ve sat on the board for a number of years in a non-executive capacity, I now have the role and the responsibilities, and the authority to do things the way I would like.
“What I would ask fans to do is judge me on my actions. I will do my very best to deliver.
“We have no divine right to be in the Premiership but we believe we should be in the Premiership. With that in mind, we’re going to do a root-and-branch review of the football operations.
“That has started and we’ll start making changes where we might think some things aren’t fit for purpose and, from my business experience, I’m not frightened of making hard decisions.”
Martin is under no illusion that strife is affecting the club, with varying supporters groups divided on the most beneficial way forward, and the newly-elected chairman is appealing to those fervent followers to rally together in their hour of need.
“I think the very best thing we can do is act. Rather than just talk about what we’re going to do, we have to start delivering,” added Martin. “Although there are various disaffected groups – groups of fans with different opinions and proposals to take things forward – ultimately we’re all Dundee United fans.
“We all want the best for this club. So I think I can put together a credible plan and series of actions for this club.
“I would ask them to give me a little bit of time to implement those and to consider me after I’ve had the opportunity to demonstrate what I can do.”
Martin moved to discredit suggestions the club could plunge into administration should they fail to make it up to the top flight this season and spend a third successive campaign in the Championship.
He said: “No. As directors of Dundee United, we all have a fiduciary responsibility to consider all eventualities.
“And so we have to consider the implications of administration but the reality is we don’t talk about it for very long because it’s not going to happen.
“Basically, we will put in place the financial structure necessary to sustain the club if we are in the Championship for another year which I sincerely hope is not going to be the case.”
Hungarian Laszlo has struggled to find domestic consistency since replacing former manager Ray McKinnon back in November, but Martin has offered the 54-year-old his support.
He added: “I am satisfied that Csaba is the man to take us forward. I think Csaba is a very good appointment. He has plans for this clubs.
“He has inherited a structure and wishes to make some changes to that.
“One of the things we’ve been talking about is at the club a succession of managers have made their tweaks and changes to the football structure.
“What we now have to go back to is having a structure which is a Dundee United structure.
“There’s no doubt it’s a big task. We are sitting in fourth spot in the Championship right now which is not where we want to be.
“We have to get back to the Premiership sooner rather than later.
“Once we’re back, we need to ensure we have the infrastructure and resources available not just to stay in the Premiership but to compete for cups and Europe again.”