None of the parties who wanted to buy Dundee United showed any interest in a merger with city rivals Dundee and, if they had, it would have been a deal breaker.
That was the emphatic message from outgoing Tangerines chairman Mike Martin as he handed the club over to new American owner Mark Ogren.
Martin and fellow director Jim Fyffe have sold their 85% shareholding to the Minnesota-based multi-millionaire because they felt he was the best equipped to take United back to the top of the Scottish game.
However, over the past 12 months they spoke to several other interested parties, most of whom were based in America.
And the first thing made clear in those discussions was no deal would be done without assurances that Dundee United would be continuing as a club in its own right.
“The principle thing we sought assurances on was to do with any potential merger of the two clubs. We were quickly reassured on that point that there are no plans to do anything there,” revealed Martin, stressing he was referring to all those who’d shown an interest in taking over.
Once that issue was dealt with, the choice of owner was decided not on the price per share Martin and Fyffe were getting, but on any prospective buyer’s plans.
“We didn’t approach anybody, we were approached by a number of individuals,” explained Martin.
“Some of those we had extremely short conversations with. We were unsure as to their motives and their plans for the club but others were realistic and, therefore, we had conversations with a variety of different people.
“One of the features of the individuals who did approach us was a strong American contingent, so we had more than one conversation with groups of Americans.”
While it was clear most entering into talks were serious bidders, it became clear 55-year-old Ogren was going to be the best option.
His fortune stems from the family oil business he recently sold and several other business interests but his background in sport made him a man United wanted to do business with.
“It became clear during our discussions with Mark that he actually would be a very good owner for Dundee United. That, therefore, culminated in the deal being done.
“We liked his style, we liked his aspirations, objectives, plans, thoughts for the club. We thought he took a great interest in the club, he took a great interest in the broader Dundee area.
“They did a lot of homework on both Dundee the city and Dundee United the club. He fully appreciated the kind of rich history at this club.
“He acknowledged the kind of passion and engagement level with the fan base and he saw great potential at the club and the opportunity to get it back to where we want it to be.”
Martin leaves the club after 10 months as chairman and, as well as a six-figure sum he’s getting for his 43% shareholding, the plan is to sell back Gussie Park, for which he paid United £1 million in February in what was a short-term move to ease the club’s debt.
Jimmy Fyffe has sold his 42% but will remain a director, as will David Dorward. Now the board is headed by Ogren whose son, Scott, will also become a director.
According to the man handing over control, their aim is to see United back challenging at the top of the Scottish game and even in Europe again as soon as possible.
“He is very passionate about sport. He is very, very keen on football. He sees opportunities in a broader European context and sees Scotland as a good entry point into that European market,” said Martin.