New Dundee United chairman Mike Martin: ‘We’ve put our fans through hell’

Mike Martin

Chairman Mike Martin believes Dundee United fans have been through hell in the last few years.

And he wants the chance to put things right.

Martin intends to be at the helm of the Tangerines for the long haul, though concedes the clubs’ ownership will change in coming months.

That could lead to United being controlled from abroad but he insists whatever the future holds it will be in the best interests of the club he’s supported all his life.

The appointment of Martin as chairman is in succession to Stephen Thompson but his close past association with the former chairman has made him an unacceptable choice for some sections of the club.

While he understands their frustrations, he wants to be judged on his own performance and not past events.

“Basically, we’ve put our fans through hell for the last two or three years,” he said.

“It’s been very difficult to be a Dundee United fan and especially for those who remember the cup finals, the cup wins and European runs and so on.

“I can understand the deep, deep disappointment and anger that we’re in the position we’re in just now. What we have to do is systematically work our way out of that and ask the fans to come with us on that journey.

“I’m very clear I can talk until the cows come home about what I’m going to do but what’s much more important is demonstrating change.

“What I’d say to them is I’m going to tell you what I’m going to do and then please let me do it and judge me at the end of that process.”

To that end Thursday night will see Martin sit down with most, possibly all, of the major supporter organisations in an attempt to convince them he’s the right man to lead their club.

“I place an awful lot of importance on fan engagement, on communication with fans,” he added.

“I have spent a fair bit of time over the last few weeks engaging with these groups, talking to them and understanding, if I didn’t know already, what some of their frustrations actually were.

“We have another meeting planned this Thursday where I’m going to talk to them in broad terms about the sort of things I propose to do.

“Where I have to be careful is that I can’t spend my entire time talking to the fan groups. And what makes it slightly more complicated is that there are different opinions within the different fans’ groups and so in an ideal world we’ve created a body called the Supporters Liaison Group.

“We wanted all of the individual fan groups to be represented on that group and we wanted to communicate to the fan bodies through that umbrella structure. Most of the fan groups have joined that structure and it’s supplemented with a few independent representatives.

“Two or three of the fan groups, two in particular, have decided not to at this stage join and I want to encourage them to. So, the meeting on Thursday was an invitation to the Supporter Liaison Group but invitations went to those two individual fan groups.”

Those groups are Fans United and the Federation of Dundee United Supporters’ clubs, who represent the views of many rank and file Arabs.

Whether they turn up remains to be seen. If they do, Martin believes he can persuade them he’s not a Stephen Thompson puppet.

The fact remains, however, while he’s quit the board, Thompson is the majority shareholder. Despite that, Martin aims to do things his way and wants to be in charge in the long-term.

“My objective is to be in the chair for a long time and (to those branding him a puppet) I would say they clearly don’t know me because I am definitely my own man,” he went on.

With his predecessor looking to “offload” his shares, Martin confirmed discussions had been held with interested parties. He would not reveal their identities but conceded that could lead to a foreign owner.

“To be honest what Stephen actually does with his shareholding ultimately is his responsibility. All I would say on that at the moment is that there are some options on the table and the objective is to pick the best option for Dundee United.”