In the past hour or so it has been reported that the deal to sell Stephen Thompson’s shares in United has collapsed. It has been common knowledge for some time that something has been happening behind the scenes but for most the general rumour involved Americans and not, as it has been reported today, local businessman John Gibson. The deal was apparently worth about £500,000 but it has collapsed due to some “unacceptable terms” within the sale. This could not have been at a worse time for the club and it leaves everyone asking questions. With people beginning to warm to the new regime under Mike Martin it feels like today’s news has set things back quite considerably. It eats away at the positivity amongst fans and it harms some of the good work done by the board this summer. We of course do not know why the deal collapsed, and it may never be known, but this could have been a significant turning point for United if the sale had gone ahead.
The other interesting aspect in all of this concerns Gibson, who is a leading member within the Dundee United Supporters Foundation. He is on the steering group of the DUSF and was heavily involved in the initial setup and media drive last year. It isn’t clear if this move by Gibson was done separately from the DUSF but for me it does cast some doubt over what their plans are now. Do they begin to ramp up the pressure and force change as an actual takeover group? This isn’t something they have shown any interest in before (and they have hundreds of members who would need to vote on the matter). I have spoken at length before about my support for the DUSF and I fully back fan involvement in terms of shareholding and investment but today changes the landscape and it might change the future of the Foundation.
This afternoon’s news now challenges both the immediate plan for the Dundee United board but also for the DUSF. What is certain is that Stephen Thompson remains as majority shareholder. I would think that almost universally people now want this to change so the news today is disheartening and confusing for a set of fans who just want Dundee United to find their feet again.
United’s competitive season begins this Saturday but it will kick-off with a massive cloud of doubt hanging in the background.