Baggy Trousers

My Primary 3 class picture unexpectedly appeared in the Courier’s Craigie column last week. Given that Craigie is effectively a Werthers Originals advert committed to print, this was a blow to someone about to turn 40 and pondering the significance of that milestone. Aside from that, the photograph proved two things:

  1. My head was visible from space from a tender age; and
  2. It is extremely hard for Dundee, or any other team for that matter, to hold on to fans into adulthood.

Hillside

One Step Beyond

Of the 36 kids in my class, the footballing allegiances can (from memory) be broken down as follows: 9 Dundee (yaaaas!), 7 United (fucking boooooo!), 2 Rangers (boooooo!) and 1 St Johnstone (meh).

Within a year of the picture being taken, one of our number had moved to Edinburgh and the last time I saw him was when we were both lifted onto the track to relieve crushing during the League Cup semi-final v Aberdeen at Tannadice. Given the club’s travails in the intervening three decades I fear his support won’t have endured the physical separation. Junior football claimed a classmate of mine in his late teens while another simply drifted away a few years later. Another couple who followed the righteous path have lived away from Dundee for most of their lives now. Facebook suggests that one guy remains an occasional attendee at Dens while a girl from our class takes her kids up from time to time.

That leaves my best mate and I as the only week in, week out regulars from the nine of us. The calculation is crude and you will always pick up a few followers along the way but I don’t think four-and-a-half child supporters being needed to produce one adult season ticket-holder is far of the mark. My class at Hillside Primary (RIP) was possibly an outlier as far as Derry representation goes as well – a mate reckons there were only five or six Dundee supporters in his entire year at Lawside. Twenty years on, he is probably the only season ticket holder out of the 150 or so kids.

The high rate of attrition between childhood and adulthood is hardly surprising given the many and varied challenges to holding on to supporters. Aside from factors such as performances, prices and scheduling that clubs have at least some control over, personal circumstances also conspire against them. The extent to which attending football matches is a priority varies from individual to individual, but for almost all of us work, finances or family commitments will come first at some point. I’ve got Dundee-supporting family and friends scattered across four continents as well as ones without two buttons to rub together. Several fans of my vintage have sadly passed away while others have been lost to drink, drugs or HMP.

Tomorrow’s Just Another Day

It is notoriously difficult to re-engage football fans once they get out of the way of attending matches regularly but the bigger challenge is to capture their attention in the first place. The choice of alternative ways for children to spend their time has never been wider so the need for clubs to work proactively to recruit young supporters has never been higher. It isn’t enough to sit back and wait for kids to demand their parents take them on a pilgrimage to Dens having heard about the exploits of Jack Hamilton and Craig Curran in the playground.

The three seasons we just spent in the league above United represent a massive missed opportunity to cement our place as the city’s top team, and our failure to capture the local youth market in the face of a much diminished opposition is as galling as our on-field shortcomings. Look at pictures of kids training camps, community groups etc in the Tully and you still largely see more tangerine than dark blue (though Liverpool and Real Madrid would appear to be the biggest two clubs in the city these days). Just last week my son’s nursery sent out a letter saying an outfit called the ‘Tiny Tangerines’, who ironically boast oversized political hack Brian Taylor as a patron, will be coming to do some coaching each week. Groups associated with United are represented at every community festival in Dundee while we are nowhere to be seen. The wee man has been registered as a Junior Dee since his first season ticket was bought when he was 11 hours old. Dundee have managed to get a card to him on time about four times out of the nine birthdays and Christmases that have followed.

How have United managed to be so much better at engaging with kids than us at a time when they have been facing severe budgetary pressure post-relegation? Now that we have also surrendered our Premiership status the situation seems unlikely to improve from our perspective. There are people within Dens working incredibly hard with meagre resources but, from the outside, there would appear to be little strategic vision as to how the club, Community Trust, Supporters’ Association and other organisations can work collaboratively to improve the offering to potential supporters and ultimately grow our fanbase.

At a time when we face a fairly catastrophic drop in season ticket holders it’s worth remembering that for each of those stumping up, many others have fallen by the wayside for one reason or another. Then think about how under-investment might impact on the amount of four-and-a-halves to draw from in the future and you very quickly conclude that a demographic timebomb could be around the corner.

He’s on the Phone

According to my mobile, my screen time was up 11% last week, for an average of 3 hours 31 minutes a day. By the time the new gaffer was finally unveiled, my daily phone use was probably rivalling that of the Fortinite-obsessed, YouTube-addicted, porn-addled, legal high-buying teenager of tabloid legend.

The time I spend staring at a screen is a constant source of annoyance to my wife, who simply doesn’t understand the effect that supporting a team almost permanently steeped in crisis has on an individual. Given the pain Dundee have inflicted over the decades I’m perfectly comfortable blaming them for any personal failings I might have (see also chronic consolatory masturbation).

 

Fans forums and Twitter are up there with the very worst innovations of the modern age. It’s not good for the soul to see just how much of an arsehole a significant proportion of your side’s fanbase is. But when the manager’s coat is on a shoogly peg, or the axe has fallen and thoughts turn to a replacement, or the transfer window has opened, they are essential hubs for rumour, gossip and wildly random info about foreign coaches possibly in town for an interview at Dens but more likely visiting the V&A.

Each new name in the hat brings a fresh visit to Wikipedia. Newspaper sites are combed. Alerts are set up. Odds are religiously checked with online bookies. Then there’s WhatsApp. I’m in four separate Derry group chats, all of which have been abuzz with talk of McIntyre, McPake, Weighorst, Robertson, Adams and assorted others recently. That’s before you even consider correspondence with dozens of other Dundee supporting individuals – many of whom you don’t really know – fishing for info or desperate to share what they heard from a taxi driver.

Several new messages pinged several times when I was in the shower last Sunday. “That’s it! They’ve appointed Mombaerts!” I excitedly told myself as I ran to retrieve the phone, dripping wet and bollock naked. Turned out it was only my Dad struggling to work the mobile he’s owned for the past decade and sending the same message (“I no want mcpak . Good win th men”) multiple times. Gutted.

You’re in a Bad Way

With all this going on, how is anyone meant to put their phone down and pay any attention to their family? Books lie unread. Box sets are abandoned. The conjugal needs of partners are neglected. Work suffers. The UK economy’s productivity slump may entirely be down to followers of permashambles football clubs checking managerial stats on soccerbase when they should be performing menial administrative tasks. Apparently there was some election last week. I was too busy scouring lists of Weighorst, Goodwin and McPake’s former team mates and managers for clues as to who they might appoint as their assistant to care.

The nature of football fans mean your focus is not entirely on your own team either. My battery was full at the start of the play-off second leg. By 6pm it had less life in it than a United penalty.

Schadenfreude works both ways and DABs have hardly been slow to express their glee since it became clear that James McPake was going to be the new Dundee manager. Uninspiring? Yes. Not what fans might have expected when John Nelms talked about ex-international bosses being among the 100-plus applicants? Definitely. McPake certainly wouldn’t have been my choice but he is not without attributes and, for better or worse, he is the Dundee manager now so we have little choice but to get behind him.

Will he go on to make Derry-minded critics and gloating arabs eat their words, which due to the wonders of modern technology have been screenshotted dozens of times just in case? Only time will tell. For now, I’m just excited about the prospect of spending less time glued to my phone.

Late in the Day

When you go into injury time a point up on the teams above you but finish it a point further behind then it’s tempting to conclude that some higher power wants you relegated at all costs.

Barring a miracle of Piers Morgan-not-being-a-fanny-about-something proportions, Dundee are down and the six points dropped in stoppage time since the end of January is a major factor in their demise. Our tendency to boot ourselves in the Ian McCalls at the very last moment has been as unerring as it is painful.

Hollow Little Reign

If only Dieng hadn’t sliced the ball straight to an opponent in the 91st minute at Hamilton.

If only Miller had put his laces through that penalty in the 94th minute v Killie.

If only Woods had put the ball into touch rather than attempting a blind, round-the-corner pass in the 96th minute against Celtic.

If only Horsfield had made some kind of attempt to stop the cross in the 95th minute at Motherwell.

Auntie, balls, uncle etc. The fact of the matter is that we didn’t do any of these things. Was that down to confidence? Judgement? Fitness? Nerve? Will to win? Ability? A bit of all of the above? Whatever we lack, St Mirren and Hamilton have more of and each point they bite and scratch their way to takes us closer to the abyss.

With these late collapses contributing to a record so appalling that it threatens to rehabilitate his predecessor, we are surely now in the time-added-on part of the Jim McIntyre era. In fairness, he inherited an absolute mess from Neil McCann and the timing and circumstances of his appointment caused issues from the outset. Trying to overhaul an entire squad in four weeks was a monumental task but he could hardly have wished for better backing from the club’s owners as he attempted to do it. Two mini-revivals seem a long time ago now.

In delivering what amounted to a pre-emptive vote of confidence in his manager prior to the Aberdeen game last month, John Nelms insisted “the data shows he is the best person to lead Dundee”. Those words have proved an albatross round his neck since because, whatever way you look at it – bottom of the league, nine defeats in a row, a record-low win rate – the data is not kind to either the Dundee gaffer or the Managing Director who quoted it in his defence.

 

I Should Coco

This week’s club statement, designed to address recent press stories, social media rumours and letters from fan groups, deviated from the Nelms’ widely derided pre-Aberdeen programme notes. Three defeats on, faith in the manager seems to have waned at boardroom level. Not only was McIntyre not referred to by name, there was no talk of him being the man for the job. Instead, results had been “beyond disappointing” and the manager “is judged on the players he brings in, the tactics he employs…we have high expectations of him.” If you were Jim McIntyre reading that you would hardly be inclined to consolidate into your current workplace pension.

The other substantial part of the statement (unless, of course, pie provenance of pies or beer festivals are dealbreakers for you) was confirmation that FPS remain committed to the club for the foreseeable future. You don’t need to be particularly enamoured with the owners of our club or the way it is run to realise that the ‘Nelms Out’ shouts growing in prominence of late are counter-productive.

The reality of our situation is that Nelms’ close friend and business partner Tim Keyes is subsidising hefty losses each year in the Premiership, where income is much, much higher than where we are headed. Our plight is not solely the fault of McIntyre, McCann or any other individual but the accumulation of years of bad decision-making. FPS must ultimately shoulder responsibility for where we find ourselves but the tap being turned off suddenly would not only cripple our chances of escaping the Fundesliga any time soon but prove an existential threat to the club.

We need our owners to learn from their mistakes and for changes in the way the club is run to take place. In the absence of any alternatives, what we don’t need to do is chase away a group who may have got much wrong but who have done so in the pursuit of what we all want.

As one of the most traumatic campaigns in the club’s history creeps towards the full time whistle, humility and pragmatism is needed on all sides, not another self-inflicted hammer blow.

Conspiracy theory collapses before end of injury time

A conspiracy theory alleging rabid anti-Irishness among Dundee’s stewarding community was discredited before referee Bobby Madden blew the full time whistle at Dens Park on Sunday.

Sky Sports viewers watched on as a Celtic supporter jumped an 8-foot drop to chase after a tricolour that stewards had pulled down seconds before.

The Celtic twitterati were quick to dismiss Dundee MD John Nelms’ claim that the flag was removed for obscuring an advertising board paid for by one of the club’s sponsors and posted images of a Rangers banner draped over the same spot earlier this season.

This appeared to be incontrovertible evidence of high-level collusion before further footage showed the offending Rangers flag was in fact removed minutes after the original picture was taken.

In all, the theory lasted almost as long as the injury time referee Madden added on at the end of Sunday’s game.

Choosing to ignore the fact other Irish flags were clearly on display at Dens Park without causing controversy, blogger and professional grievance merchant Martin Moore hit out at all involved, saying, ‘Normally I just analyse Sevco’s finances in forensic detail but I was inspired to write about this blatant anti-Irish racism. It was no coincidence that it happened on St Patrick’s Day.

‘Nelms says this was only done because the flag was obscuring an advertising board but he would say that because he’s from Texas and they have the KKK there.’

Professor Glen Dingies, of the Institute for Futba Studies, said, ‘There is a clear causal link between paranoia and supporting the Old Firm. Everyone knows the stewards at Dens are heavy-handed but, quite frankly, Ayr United and Falkirk fans are treated by them worse than Celtic or Rangers’ ever will.

‘With respect to the injury time played, it is highly unusual to see Celtic supporters back a referee rather than claiming a Masonic conspiracy against them. It’s almost as if they just see and hear what they want.’

HULLTOON HERALD: South Ayrshire Police set to tackle Mexican cartels          

SAPDcropHaving prevented the breakdown of civilisation by taking a small amount of bevvy off football fans, the South Ayrshire division of Police Scotland is set to be deployed to Mexico to tackle the escalating war between rival drug cartels.

The SAPD were quick to boast of their accomplishments on twitter last weekend after cops in riot gear boarded a coach containing Ayr United fans travelling to watch their side play Greenock Morton, a notorious powder keg fixture which has led to zero arrests or incidents of public disorder in recent years.

Having seen his officers seize a bottle of orange Mad Dog 20/20, two tins of Fosters, two tins of Strongbow Dark Fruit cider and a total of three litres of Buckfast, Sergeant Lyall of South Ayrshire Police has set his sights on bigger targets.

“Now that El Chapo has been banged up, Mexico is wide open and cartels are sure to be murdering and extorting in order to strengthen their grip on the lucrative drugs business,” he said. “Operations like last weekend keep communities safe and we are keen to take our experiences of pointlessly targeting peaceful football fans into the counter-narcotrafficking arena.

“My men will lay traps in lay-bys all over Mexico every Saturday in operations costing the public purse thousands while serving no purpose other than making us look like big men on twitter. They won’t know what’s hit them.”

Professor Glen Dingies, of the Institute for Futba Studies, said, “I don’t know what’s more embarrassing – that South Ayrshire Polcie saw fit to boast about the fact they took 65 units of drink off the streets or the fact a supporters bus only had 65 units on board. My mate Jimmy has a bigger away day kerry-oot than that on his own, for fuck’s sake.”

HULLTOON HERALD: Dundee fans demand appropriately syllabled replacement for Laszlo

Csaba Laszlo’s replacement as Dundee United manager must be someone whose name fits well with a song popular among Dundee fans, according to followers of the Dens Park club.

Laszlo, sacked as United manager after a humiliating 5-1 home defeat to Ross County, had the perfect name for the Derry version of the 1967 Monkees hit Daydream Believer. Now Dundee supporters are demanding that Tannadice chairman Mike Martin considers the syllabic implications when appointing a new manager.

“’Cheer up Csaba Laszlo, oh what can it mean, to a sad arabbastard and a shite football team’,” sang lifelong Dee Duncan McDonald for the last time. “See? It fits perfectly. Mike Martin has to do the right thing here. We want either four syllables or someone with a two-syllable first name and single-syllable surname, like sleepy Jean in the original song.

“John Hughes would be a funny as fuck appointment from a footballing perspective but ‘Joh-nay Hugh-zzz doesn’t scan so well and no one calls him Johnny other than his mum. We had to do it with ‘Craigy’ Brewster and it felt like a pet name. Mc-Na-mar-a worked well. So did Paatelainen and Ray Mc-Kinn-on. We demand more of the same. No one wants to go back to the Paaaaaw-el Stuuuuu-rock days.”

 

EDITORIAL: McCann Must Go

Football, the old cliché goes, is a results business. Long gone are the days where a struggling manager is given months, never mind years, to turn around a team and remake it in his own image. While some will mourn the loss of the conditions which allowed Alex Ferguson to become a Manchester United legend, others will rightly recognise that the game has changed immeasurably since the 1990s, when a certain diminutive winger scored a cheeky lob-cum-cross to keep Dundee Football Club afloat. The Bosman ruling has shifted the balance of power within the dressing room towards the squad; the advent of social media has made it more difficult to ignore the views of long-suffering fans (as well as giving disgruntled players a chance to vent); most importantly, the infusion of money (and ensuing inequality between divisions, even in Scotland) has turned relegation from a sporting inconvenience to an existential threat.

Relegation for Dundee this season would be a disaster, both on and off the park. For a club with a top six budget to be cut adrift with zero points after six games is beyond embarrassing. For a club looking to move to a new stadium and struggling to get fans through the turnstiles, losing a battle against relegation would undo years of work to return some semblance of normalcy to its governance and finances. We only have to look across the road to our neighbours to see how one bad season can detonate under what seemed like a steady ship.

Nobody likes to admit they got it wrong, or to concede that their club and team are in a shitstorm of their own making. It’s human nature, and it’s understandable, but we can’t bury our heads in the sand any longer. The simple fact is that Neil McCann is no longer fit to be Dundee manager, and the uncomfortable truth is that he hasn’t been for quite some time. Every game he remains in charge is another 3 points thrown away, another handful of supporters who swear not to come back until he’s booted, and another dent to the confidence and unity of the squad.

The most surprising element of it all is the relatively unanimous opinion among supporters that his time is up. Although we may deny it now, our last three dismissals – Hartley, Bomber Brown and Barry Smith – all divided opinion among the support, and indeed among those of us involved with WDTPR. The WDTPR team, which includes those involved with The Dark Blues and Up Wi’ The Bonnets, stretches the whole spectrum of optimism among the Dens Park faithful, but after the Ayr United debacle, even the happiest of happy clappers among us admitted McCann had to go. Members of the media who aren’t his friends and other supporters are looking on in stunned bemusement at our board’s failure to sack the manager, and as for the boardrooms of Hamilton and St Mirren, champagne corks must pop every week as they’re given more time and fixtures to build up a points barrier.

The only people who seem to fail to accept reality are unfortunately the only people with the power to make the necessary changes. Nobody wants to see Dundee return to the dark days of administration, and the financial support from the American consortium has been instrumental in Dundee becoming – for now – an established, if struggling, Premiership side. However, their financial clout must now be met with footballing nous. In a perverse way, the regime’s patience and loyalty, first with Hartley and now with McCann, is admirable.

However, anybody with any knowledge of the game can see that the McCann project has failed spectacularly with no chance of redemption whatsoever, and the constant rumour mill regarding how many games he has left to prove himself does nothing other than erect a Potemkin village of confidence in the manager and his “philosophy”. The longer the board dither, dally and delay over a man who has lost the confidence of the fans and the players, the more we will sink into quicksand and the more toxic the atmosphere at Dens will become.

The most frustrating element of the Board’s attitude is that they expect more fans to turn up and pay sky high prices to watch absolute dreck on the park with nothing more than empty platitudes that it will “get better”. Although the diehards among us will watch anything in dark blue – Christ, we turned up under Alan Kernaghan and through seven straight seasons of the Championship – it’s the wider, more ambivalent support which ebb and flow with the club’s fortunes that make the financial difference. We’ve all heard rumours about empty hospitality lounges, chants in the Bobby Cox against the manager and wider discontent, let alone witnessing the manager arguing with fans in the stands, and for the Board to take no action whatsoever despite all the warning signs is not exactly encouraging.

We said at the start that football is a results business, so the above narrative of a fanbase in revolt and a popular former player reduced to comic book villain should be put into its proper context. To those who only encounter Dundee on Sportscene or in the papers and only hear from the manager or some board members, it may seem as if we’ve just been “unlucky”, “not caught the breaks”, and “just need to get in front and then we’ll play”. We’re sorry, but that is pish. For every offside trap against St Johnstone or Hamilton brainfart against St Mirren that was punished, there’s been a Kusunga slip or missed open goal that we’ve escaped from. We are exactly where we deserve to be just now – rock bottom – and although the players must take their share of blame, the buck ultimately stops with the gaffer. A quick examination of his tactics, signings and man management makes grim reading.

Tactics

Neil McCann’s constant team tactics tombola prevents players from building up understanding and plays into the hands of our opponents. Playing a back three against Rangers with Cammy Kerr as the left-sided centre back should be a sackable offence (with no malice at all towards Cammy, who has done what he can in an alien position). The narrow diamond formation favoured by McCann at a time when the use of attacking full backs is in vogue is asking for trouble, and that’s before considering the use of players who have said themselves they prefer playing further up the pitch as our own full backs.

The fact that we’ve yet to go ahead in a game and therefore failed to come back from behind demonstrates the lack of fight in the team, but is also indicative of the failure throughout the side to produce and convert chances. McCann often talks about our possession and “domination” of games, but the ugly truth is that teams know they can let us have the ball and do absolutely nothing with it for large stretches of the game before hitting us on the break. It is surely unnecessary to remind everybody that points, not possession percentages, decides who stays up and who goes down. United fans across the city have not been shy in telling us that it’s reminiscent of their own relegation season, where a smooth-talking manager kept his job far longer than he should.

Signings

Management is as much about signing players as it is about selecting which eleven to send out and do battle. A stick we all used to beat Hartley with was his transfer policy, and the parallels with McCann are now alarming. They both started off with a couple of hits (Stewart, Hemmings and Bain in Hartley’s case, Hendry and Kamara for McCann), but their overall record, particularly with strikers post-Stewart/Hemmings, was/is dreadful. Even before his horror show 15-minute cameo against Ayr United which ended with a disgraceful red card, Sofien Moussa was considered a joke figure. Signing a 38-year-old striker on a two-year deal and condemning our “big” summer signing to the bench after failing to impress is just par for the course.

This season, it’s only got worse all over the park. Spending money on a goalkeeper famed for his poor distribution and lack of comfort with the ball at his feet when your team “philosophy” is playing it out from the back would make you laugh if you didn’t cry. The story of our defence is just as tragicomic; Kerr Waddell, who was earning plaudits for breaking into the team last season and his no-nonsense defending, has been sent out on loan along with fellow centre back Dan Jefferies. At left-back, we released Kevin Holt and Basque Jon and replaced them with Nathan Ralph, who hasn’t made much of an impression, and Celtic loanee Calvin Miller, who has himself said he’s better at left mid. Often, it’s been up to the aforementioned Cammy Kerr to fill in on the opposite flank.

With last year’s captain, Darren O’Dea, left out in the cold, Steven Caulker leaving the club under a bit of a cloud, and Kusunga alternating between suspension, injury and outright disaster, we’ve had to resort to signing two players on loan from down south to fill the gaps at centre-half. As for our midfield, it’s failed to provide either a Motherwell-style physicality or a Hibs-style flair to influence proceedings at either end of the park. Even the return of the poised Glen Kamara at the weekend couldn’t save us from the inevitable.

Man management

The transfer policy under McCann has been exacerbated by his apparent approach to staff relations. Disgruntled former players are nothing new, of course, but for mild-mannered Julen Etxabeguren to complain in the press about his approach is enough to raise anybody’s eyebrows. Rumours of fall outs with Scott Bain, Scott Allan, Kevin Holt, Basque Jon, Steven Caulker, Paul McGowan, Darren O’Dea and Marcus Haber to name a few suggest a temperament unsuited to the rigours of modern management, and a failure to recognise that freezing players out of a squad which will inevitably be hit with suspensions and injuries will only come back to haunt you.

With hindsight, as funny as McCann’s bust-up with Tommy Wright was, it too was indicative of wider issues, and there’s little doubt that it’s the Ulsterman having the last laugh. The story about making the team watch the Manchester City documentary after getting pumped out of the cup by Ayr United doesn’t exactly breed confidence in his ability to motivate players, and Gowser’s recent comments in the press about the atmosphere in the dressing room only contribute to a sense of a squad with nothing going its way.

Every manager has their foibles and way of doing things, and we have no doubt we’d forgive Neil for noising up other managers and having the odd stushie with players if everything was going well. However, the statistics for his reign are nothing but damning. This season alone, we’ve lost 6 in a row, making this the worst ever start to a league season for Dundee and the second worst top flight team on current form in the world (behind Guingamp of France, the poor sods). We’ve scored two and conceded 14 in the league – if you include games against championship teams, that becomes played eight, lost eight, scored two, conceded 18.

However, this should not come as a surprise. Under McCann, we have won 11 out of 44 league games since the start of last season. Of our 26 home games against top flight opposition during his reign, we’ve won 6, drawn 5 and lost 15, scoring 20 and conceding 43 in the process. McCann has lost over half of all the games he has been in charge, the worst of any manager since 1919. We’ve lost 4 goals on 6 occasions under McCann, and Motherwell have won as many games at Dens against top flight opposition as we have in the last calendar year, for crying out loud (four, for those of you wondering).

For Neil McCann and John Nelms to state we are in a false position is insulting to the intelligence of Dundee fans, who are the backbone of the club and have been subjected to the terrible performances, naive tactics and touchline histrionics and can see through the excuses being proffered to a pliant press. If action is not taken soon at the top, the club will reap what it has sown, and it would be too late for even the likes of Pep Guardiola to save us. Talk of boycotts and protests is surely beginning to seep into their consciousness, and with a crunch game against Hamilton on Saturday, we cannot afford to wait any longer.

Neil McCann will always be remembered fondly for his goal against Airdrieonians to send us to the League Cup Final and keep the doors at Dens open. His brief return from retirement to score a last-minute winner against Raith Rovers in the Deefiant season is the stuff of legend, and it’s a tragedy that these memories and his legacy is being tainted by the current crisis at Dens. However, no individual player or manager is bigger than a Club with a proud 125-year history and a support which has already been through more than its fair share of heartache.

For the sake of Dundee Football Club, the Board must act now and must relieve Neil McCann of his duties, before the fans vote with their feet and wallets and his efforts as a player are forever warped by recent events. We can only hope that the Board put the greater good first, and remember that while custodians come and go, the Club must endure.

Walking Down the Provie Road

No to Thirty – an open letter to the directors of Dundee FC

Dundee Football Club yesterday announced plans to charge fans £30 to watch Scottish Premiership matches at Dens Park next season. We, as passionate but extremely concerned supporters of the club, call on them to rethink their pricing strategy and scrap this ill-conceived proposal.

The introduction of ‘Premium’ pricing above the existing Category A (£26) and Category B (£24) tiers means that the cost of attending certain games will have risen 15% over the last year and 33% since 2015/16.

This is a slap in the face for loyal supporters who have twice dug deep to save the club and completely unrealistic given that Dens offers the most basic facilities of any top-flight club and the city of Dundee has been hit hard by a decade of austerity.

When the club was promoted to the Premiership four years ago, a record number of season tickets was sold. The following summer saw a substantial increase in prices, particularly for OAPs, students and under-16s, with the result that sales fell sharply. Season tickets and pay at the gate prices have risen since then and the number of both groups attending matches has continued to fall.

Despite the clear link between rising admission prices and falling attendances, Dundee have chosen to impose this increase shortly after announcing that 1000 more attendees were need for the club to break even. This hardly seems like a strategy to get punters flocking back to Dens.

This business model appears to rest on two assumptions – that fans of clubs who traditionally bring large away supports to Dens will continue to do so despite them being charged £6 more than followers of other sides, and that enough of our own support will blindly pay whatever is asked of them. Both of these assumptions are flawed in our opinion.

With every admission rise, more fans are priced out of football. Others who can only just afford it find it harder to justify the sacrifices they must make elsewhere while others still will stop going either out of principle or because they feel the product is in no way commensurate with the costs involved.

The games falling under the Premium category are also likely to be moved to suit broadcasters. Fans are being asked to shell out £30 for matches taking place at the most inconvenient of times. The option of watching on TV becomes ever more attractive for many.

We fully understand that Scottish clubs operate in a challenging environment and that incredibly difficult decisions must be made in order to balance the books. We also appreciate that the board has underwritten losses in previous seasons, as well as having ambitious plans for a new stadium.

Nonetheless, any short-term financial gain from charging exorbitant prices will cause significant damage in the longer run. As well as making it harder and less appealing for PATG supporters to attend matches, this decision threatens to impact on season ticket sales as a substantial number of holders have expressed their intention not to renew as a result. Although they don’t stand to be directly affected by the increase, it feeds a growing perception that the board of directors are, at best, completely out of touch with average, working-class Dundee fans, and, at worst, happy to exploit their loyalty.

Not only this, but the announcement has come at the worst time possible. Our position in the Premiership remains precarious and, at the exact point when we need everyone coming together for the relegation battle ahead, Premiumgate has unnecessarily driven a wedge between the club and its fans.

It appears the Dundee board made this decision with no consultation with either club’s Supporter Liaison Officer or either of the recognised representative groups. We therefore call once more for the club to scrap these extortionate charges and engage constructively with supporters to find ways of growing the club’s fanbase and increasing revenue.

The WDTPR team

HULLTOON HERALD: Arabs complain coverage fails to reflect ‘world-famous’ status

Dundee United fans who believe their club to be world-famous have been surprised by the global indifference that greeted Saturday’s humiliation at Falkirk.

Followers of the Tannadice club have spent decades convinced they are one of the biggest names in football.

Common symptoms of this delusion include lying about encounters with random foreigners who invariably mention a mid-ranking Scottish football side, claiming characters from children’s TV shows as celebrity fans, taking credit for bringing peace to the Balkans and using hashtags such as #TWFDUFC and #WASC.

Given the colossal stature they believe their club to have, Arabs felt their 6-1 defeat at the hands of a side managed by Paul Hartley would be front-page news across the world.

“Imagine if Juventus took 6 at AC Sorrento, or Real Madrid were humped by a squad of pillheads staying in San Antonio – that’s the magnitude of this defeat,” explained United supporter Wayne Robertson from Carnoustie.

“Falkirk don’t deserve to be in the same league as us, let alone on the same pitch, so for this to happen must have felt like end of days stuff around the world.

“My first thought when the goals began raining in was concern for our massive global fanbase. I feared riots in Accra, suicides in Jakarta, a collapse in the value of the Yen and possibly a coup in Colombia. Trump would definitely be tweeting about us.

“I expected rolling 24 hour news, harrowing pieces by Michael Buerk and UN resolutions. Real 9/11 stuff. But there was nothing apart from GIRFUYs from other Scottish fans. The only explanation is those bluenose bastards at DC Thomson orchestrating a worldwide media blackout, cos everyone knows they are the root of everything that goes wrong at United.

“Otherwise we’d have to admit we’re not world famous after all and are just a mediocre Fundesliga outfit stuck in a downward spiral. But that can’t be right because I got customised orange-and-black Adidas trainers with ‘TWFDUFC’ on them.

“Shabba. FTD83. Does anyone want to talk about attendances?”