Dundee: Change needed for US investor to revive bid

John Brown: Only censured. Picture: SNS
John Brown: Only censured. Picture: SNS
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DUNDEE’S hopes of attracting additional investment from the United States have not been completely extinguished, but Texas-based John Nelms, a member of the consortium that withdrew an offer earlier this week, admits something must change quickly for the bid to be resuscitated.

Although the Dens Park club received some good news yesterday when manager John Brown was only censured by the Scottish Football Association for comments made after the 1-1 draw with Aberdeen last month, there was a setback when Dundee learned that playmaker Gary Harkins admitted he would likely move elsewhere, following the breakdown in talks with investors.

The consortium included Nelms and Tim Keyes, whose equity firm was providing the majority of the finance for the £650,000 deal, while Dundee directors Bill Colvin and Steve Martin were also prepared to help fund the proposal. However, when the three representatives on the board from the Dundee FC Supporters’ Society, which owns a majority shareholding in the club, asked the consortium to again postpone their deadline, while putting up a bond of over £100,000, Colvin and Martin tendered their resignations, along with finance director Ian Crighton.

A DFCSS meeting has been scheduled for Dens Park tomorrow afternoon, when fans are expected to voice their displeasure at the current stasis, and Nelms has again stressed that, while Dundee remain their favoured choice, the US investors could look elsewhere.

Nelms, who spoke to The Scotsman from Texas yesterday, has called on the DFCSS to arrange a vote, where fans can make a decision on what they want to happen. The DFCSS directors are concerned that the supporters are not in a position to make an informed decision, since they claim sufficient due diligence has not been done on the investors, although Nelms argues that this was done last month, when Colvin, Martin and chief executive Scot Gardiner travelled to the States to meet with him and Keyes.

“I don’t know how it is possible,” said Nelms, when asked whether the offer could be put back on the table. “Perhaps if the fans, as a group, say we are willing to do this now, then potentially. We want to be there, we have a passion to be there. However, now the time frame has been pushed back even further.

“We want the best opportunity to move forward from day one next season, because after that Rangers are in the league. It is very frustrating.”

Nelms admitted that other clubs were interested in working with the Americans, who have based their business plans around youth development. “In the time since our Dundee bid has become public, immediately three clubs contacted us, two of which were Scottish, saying please come here,” says Nelms. “It was almost to the point where they were saying ‘I am sorry for the way you have been treated, please come here and have a conversation’. There are also a couple more clubs from further south who have come in, asking what we want to do.

“I have not made contact with any of them,” he added. “It’s Dundee that we studied, and it is where we want to be. We like John Brown. Our commitment rests with Dundee FC.

“I would never say all hope is extinguished, what I would say is that the gentlemen who wanted to be a part of this [Colvin and Martin], have left the club,” added Nelms. “Their financial director [Crighton], who is a very prominent figure, has left the club, after looking at the details of the offer and saying it was a fantastic opportunity.”

Nelms, who was in Dundee last week, added that it made him “sick to the stomach” when reading emails sent to him by fans, urging the investors not to give up on the club. “We have been inundated with emails which are fantastically supportive, begging us not to go, telling us we need to stay and help,” he said. “I don’t want to bash the Supporters Society. I understand why there is a concern but if there is such a deep-rooted concern, ask us the questions, tell us what it is you want us to know.”