John Nelms has hailed the bravery of players and staff for taking wage cuts to get Dundee through the financial mire of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last year the club revealed £500,000 losses due to the shortened 2019/20 season, triggering “significant and unsustainable stress on the club’s finances”.
However, the Dens Park managing director says efforts from fans, players and staff have seen the newly-promoted Premiership club come out of the latest campaign in a strong position.
So much so that the American has predicted the Dark Blues will be “near-break even” when their finances are announced for 2020/21.
“The prior year we had a loss, smaller than the year before,” Nelms told the Courier.
“I think where we are at the moment we will be near-break even, maybe a little bit of a loss.
“We laser-focused our eyes on budget and how to deal with everything. It is a very unusual year with finances because you’re getting monies from areas you’ve never had from before.
“Everything changed but I don’t think we will have a massive loss like we have in years past.
“Because of the help of everyone around the club we’re on relatively good footing going forward.
“We had to make serious, hard decisions.
“Even with players taking wage cuts and staff as well we weren’t going to defer that and make it next year’s problem.
“It was brave of people to accept that and see the bigger picture.
“For that, we are in a strong position going into next year, financially.”
A major part of that has been the insurance policy that guarded against the events of spring 2020 and the loss of earnings incurred.
A protracted legal wrangle brought doubt over whether the insurance broker would pay out.
However, success came in the courts for the club and money has slowly been trickling into the Dens Park coffers.
Combined with things like the Government’s furlough scheme and philanthropist James Anderson’s donation to the SPFL, things have been somewhat eased financially through the toughest of years.
Nelms said: “The insurance policy has been fantastic for us.
“It is like pulling teeth but they are paying out.
“They are about four months behind so it takes time to get that money out.
“It’s been a hurdle to get over but it is definitely a lifeline.
“You can knock the Government but the furlough scheme and the different incentives that you could apply for, the gentleman who came up with the money with every team in our league getting £500,000 – all of these things added up to where it took the pressure off.
“It did bring other pressure, such as arguing with insurance companies, which is something you would only do once in a while rather than monthly or weekly.
“You had a different set of issues but, overall with that, the way the fans have stepped up, Dee Promotions changing the way they done things, Dee TV and restructuring everything we did along with the insurance money, kept it ticking over.
“We were still nervous about it and although we were never comfortable it was ticking over.
“As an organisation, we feel we are in a good position.
“Hopefully we can stop worrying about some of the restrictions and they start going away.
“We can then start focusing on getting the fans back in.”
The playing squad accepted wage cuts, as did staff around the club, while Dundee fans Ross Day and Scott Roberts set up the 1893 Foundation, which has seen supporters donate £125,000 to the club over the past season.
Around 600 Dees have signed up to the venture, which sees all money raised funnelled into the Dens Park coffers.
The latest update from the 1893 Foundation.
• Virtual ticket raised just under 10k
• Now over 600 members
• Over £9,000 a month donated to @DundeeFC from the fans
• On course to top £125,000 in their first year
Join here 👇🏻https://t.co/yT0AtevSEb
— The Dee Archive (@TheDeeArchive) May 19, 2021
Also helping out was local businessman John Bennett, owner of Dens Park. The former Dundee United director waived the rent due from the Dark Blues in the early months of the Covid-19 shutdown.
“The 1893 Foundation, those two guys and everyone that was involved in that was immense,” Nelms added.
“It continues to be immense and the sole function of that is to help the football club.
“People want to be part of that and we absolutely support that, helping out where we can but they run it.
“1893 should get credit, Dee Promotions should get credit, everyone in the building should get credit.
“Everybody outside the building that supported the organisation should get credit.
“There are loads of people I haven’t discussed who helped out with various levels of finance to get us through the mire.”
Getting supporters back to Dens this summer
As part of a thank you effort from the club, Nelms revealed club figures will meet to discuss an open day at Dens Park over the summer.
Covid-19 restrictions kept the Dark Blues support out of Dens Park for almost the entire season before 500 were allowed in to see the play-off final first leg.
And the managing director is eager to get fans and players together to celebrate their promotion back to the top flight.
Asked if an event like that is on the agenda, Nelms replied: “Absolutely. On Tuesday we are having a staff meeting to discuss things like that specifically.
“The problem is we plan these things without having parameters.
“We know what we want to do, here’s how we will do it but how much are we going to be allowed to do?
“There are plans to do all kinds of things for the fans this summer. We want them back, entertained and here.
“We are going to do everything we can to make that happen and on Tuesday we are going to sit down.
“There is already have a good idea of what we want to do but we are going to set dates, times and come up with other ideas about what we can do to bring the fans back to where they ought to be.”
STILL TO COME: Nelms reveals next stage in stadium dream, celebrations with owner Tim Keyes and sticking by manager James McPake.