Merger fear as Dundee owners bid to up their stake

Dundee's Tim Keyes (left) and John Nelms. Picture: SNS
Dundee's Tim Keyes (left) and John Nelms. Picture: SNS
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Dundee’s American owners have launched an attempt to raise their stake in the club in a move that has heightened merger fears among supporters.

Talk of a possible joining of forces between the two senior clubs in the city reared its head again last month following the purchase of Dundee United by United States-based businessman Mark Ogren.

It has now emerge that FPS, the Dens Park club’s ownership vehicle spearheaded by the Houston-based Tim Keyes, has been involved in confidential discussions to buy shares from the Dundee Football Club Supporters’ Society (DFCSS) in order to acquire over 75 per cent of the club. They currently own 68.2 per cent.

Reaching 75 per cent would give the current owners complete control and would result in the permanent loss of some of the entrenched rights agreed between the DFCSS and FPS when they took over at Dundee six years ago.

Included among them is the right to veto “an amalgamation or merger with another club” as well as a change of stadium location.

News that John Nelms, the Dundee managing director, is back in the States this week on business, will unsettle fans further. Ogren recently stated he had not met Nelms prior to taking over at Tannadice.

Dundee’s owners are hoping to build a stadium on ground bought by Dark Blue Property Holdings, effectively Keyes and Nelms, at Camperdown Park. Ground sharing between Dundee and Dundee United is also considered a possibility.

An agm is to be held at Dens Park tomorrow morning when the DFCSS’s membership, which numbers around 150, will be asked for their views on the offer, understood to be worth around £50,000 to the Society. Members have a deadline of 21 January to respond to the letter outlining the offer from FPS sent to them this week.

Kenny Ross, chairman of umbrella fans group Dundee Supporters Association, said he had concerns about Society giving up something as potentially key to the club’s future as the right to block merger moves. “If the Society decide to sell to FPS then it is giving up on the rights of veto they found so hard to obtain in 2012,” he said. The DFCSS also currently have a right of veto over club borrowings of over £50,000.

Dundee United yesterday announced the appointment of new sporting director Tony Asghar and new managing director in Malachy Brannigan and fans of Dundee’s rivals have responded furiously to any prospect of a merger between the teams. Mike Barile, Secretary of Arab-TRUST, said: “This will not happen in my lifetime. We will fight tooth and nail to prevent any sort of merger. There is far too much tradition at Dundee United to be thinking along these lines for the future.”