Channel 4's Dispatches programme goes undercover, posing as investors trying to buy an English Football League club. Preview reports describe the programme as "jaw dropping," "compuslory viewing" and "a sorry mess in football."
Football League chairman Greg Clarke when asked if he is confident he knows who the owners of every club are replied "No I'm not. There's a process of validation that lets the Football League know who the owners are. Who the owners of the owners are gets more difficult. And who the owners of the owners of the owners are gets even more difficult."
The programme is now available to watch online here.
The Supporters Direct Fans' Weekend, including the Annual UK Conference and SD Cup, takes place this weekend in Chester. The Conference will be held at The Queen Hotel on Friday, and the Exacta Stadium, home of Chester F.C, on Saturday.
The Dundee FC Supporters Society will be represented at the event by Directors Fraser MacDonald, John Keith and Bill Brewster.
As with the Scottish conference, the UK conference will open with an open presentation and debate. The UK Conference plenary focuses on Finance and Business Advantages of Community Ownership. This is followed by several breakout sessions (Inspiring & Enabling Supporter Ownership, Policy & Regulation, Training for Supporters Trusts, Europe and Supporter & Community Owned Clubs). The conference then closes with a "Seizing the Opportunity" session.
On Saturday, a Marquee will be set up at Chester FC for presentations by David Conn (The Guardian), Andy Walsh (General Manager of FC United of Manchester), Chris Pilsbury (Chairman of Chester FC) and more. Chester FC will then play FC United of Manchester (both Supporter-owned clubs) for the Supporters Direct Cup.
As you may know, Supporters Direct (including SD in Scotland) has an uncertain future due to a lack of funding, since they were informed by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, administrators of the Premier League Fans' Fund, that it was withdrawing its funding.
Supporters Direct in Scotland asked for members to lobby their MSPs to gain their support for funding the organisation north of the border - a motion was then raised with the Scottish Parliament. By way of an update on where they are with the funding problems, Elaine Millar of SD Scotland has today released the following statement...
"We would like to thank all of you who have contacted their MSPs to ask them to support the motion on Supporters Direct Scotland. There has been cross-party support for the motion but it's not too late to ask your MSP to support it and while you're asking remember to tell them about the achievements of your trust. The last election saw many new MSPs elected and this is a great opportunity to make them aware of your valuable role and your ambitions.
Last week we had a positive meeting with representatives of the Scottish Government and we have been asked to put forward proposals by the end of July which would allow the organisation to continue to engage with supporters, develop supporters' trusts and seek other funding opportunities.
Short-term funding has been secured from another source which will allow the organisation time to prepare the business case and go through the process of negotiating the terms and conditions of any offer. As you will understand this is a substantial piece of work to complete so it may be that replies to other enquiries take a little longer than usual.
Thank you again for all your support. We will keep you informed of progress over the next few weeks."
We would like to apologise for any confusion caused by the accidental use of the word "donation" in our statement concerning the Junior Dees. It was money collected specifically for this purpose and it has been invested in the Club on behalf of the fans.
The Society purchases shares any time we put money into the club, in order to consolidate the supporters' position - something which we would encourage all individuals and groups to do. Dundee fans have worked tirelessly and donated as much (sometimes more) money than they can afford to ensure our club has a future and our fans have a voice. By continuing to purchase shares in this manner we are ensuring that the fans have a continued stake in their club, both now and for future generations, e.g. so our Junior Dees have a say in years to come. It's vital not only to use the funds already raised to do so, but to continue to generate additional money where possible and inject capital every year. The number who make an ongoing regular commitment to the Football Club via the Society by way of Gold and Platinum subscriptions continues to grow.
Charging for membership has been discussed by the Society board several times including at a recent AGM where it was agreed that it makes more sense not to exclude people from having a say in the running of their club by charging a fee. Anyone who wants to give more than £1 can do so, and there are several ways they can do this.
We want the Society to be inclusive, not exclusive. Members with internet access and questions should "contact us" via our website or PO Box, and note that we are planning a meeting for members to discuss the way forward as a community club in the near future.
Thanks to you all for your continued support and encouragement.
Communications, Dundee FC Supporters' Society Ltd.
Young Dundee fans will be able to join the Junior Dees for free next season thanks to a £5000 joint funding package from the two Trusts working to secure a sustainable future for the club.
We'd like to apologise for the delay in getting the May and June Monthly Draw winners published, however without further ado...
The May winner is Dave Glen of Milton Keynes (member no. 4476). Congratulations to Dave, who wins this season's new home top.
Our June winner is Leigh Kingston of Broughty Ferry (member no. 4498). And it's Congratulations to Leigh, who wins this season's new away top.
The monthly draw is for Gold and Platinum members, who also enjoy a fantastic range of other benefits. If you're not already a member, you can check out the benefits of becoming one at our membership section. Signing up is easy, simply fill in your details online or download our membership application form, fill it out and post it back to us. You too could enjoy the benefits of the Gold or Platinum schemes.
The term ‘community club’ is one that most Dundee F.C. fans have been hearing for a while now, and in the spirit of community, the Dundee FC Supporters' Society is delighted to announce our continued sponsorship of the Dundee Primary Schools League. This season we've increased our sponsorship by 10% to £275, which was matched by our neighbours in the ArabTrust.
DFCSS were happy to increase the sum involved, and were quickly treated to an afternoon of great football on Tuesday 28th June, when Society Director Dave Forbes and volunteer Grant Cook accepted an invitation from Primary Schools League Secretary, Gerry Dignan, to attend the Neil Glen Trophy, which pits all the winners from various leagues and cups in the primary league, in a one off, Champions’ League type event.
In the lead-up to the tournament, Gerry told us, "the season was very successful despite the atrocious weather in November and December. With some frantic arranging and a lot of commitment all leagues and cups were completed in the time available. St. Mary’s won section A with Ancrum Road on their back all season. Craigowl won Section B, holding off Downfield in the final fixture. Section C was won by SS Peter & Paul, just pipping Craigiebarns. Forthill stormed to the title with a late surge past Eastern in Section D. St Clement’s won the Small Schools’ League for the second year.
"In the cups, St. Mary’s completed the double, while Downfield turned the tables, beating Craigowl on penalties. Craigiebarns were again second best, losing a cracker of a game 7-5 to Glebelands, while Forthill completed the double over Eastern. St Clement’s also completed a double, while in the top cup, The Junior Sports Cup, Craigiebarns finally made it third time lucky, while stopping Forthill claiming a treble with a 1-0 win. Plenty of excitement and drama throughout."
Unfortunately Craigiebarns and St Clement's were unable to attend the Neil Glen tournament, leaving Forthill, St Mary's, SS Peter and Paul, Craigowl, St Clement's and Downfield to fight it out for the trophy.
Volunteer Grant Cook caught up with Gerry Dignan at the tournament, whose own school was involved, but he still took time out of his busy schedule for a chat. Gerry was obviously delighted with the contributions made from either side of Tannadice Street, and said ‘the money we receive from both DFCSS and the ArabTrust is pretty vital to the continuation of this league. It is the league’s only real income, and without it we would struggle to make ends meet.
"Schools football is important not just in the development of young players, it teaches these kids about competition, teamwork, commitment and one of our top priorities in this league is to instil a sense of fair play."
New DFCSS Community Director Jacqui Robertson echoed those sentiments, "supporting football in schools in our community is vital. These kids are our supporters and players of the future. In a word full of technology it's good to see that football still has its place as a healthy form of exercise that these kids enjoy and to help them via sponsorship means that DFC plays its part. While some of these kids play football in other leagues, not all of them do, so encouraging others to play can only be good for not just the footballing community, but the community as a whole. It provides these kids with a structured, safe environment to enjoy their football, and DFCSS is delighted to help with that provision."
The tournament itself was highly successful, with around 200 spectators taking in the action, and with three games taking place simultaneously at all times, there was plenty of action on a glorious sunny afternoon. Each team played the other in a six team tournament with the winners to be proclaimed at the end of the day. Gerry explained the format, "it gives the boys something different, league or cup games are one offs, you play the game and go home to wait for the next one, and with the weather this year, that is sometimes a long wait. This event is played in one go, the matches last fifteen minutes each, and the event is over in a couple of hours, and trophies are presented. It also attracts a fair crowd, and that is also something new for a lot of these players, it gives them confidence."
Confidence indeed. These youngsters put on a real spectacle, with an average of more than two goals per game, those in attendance were entertained royally, and not just with goals. With three games on the go at once, it was sometimes hard to keep track, but everywhere you looked, players were showing off their skills. The first touch of these kids was great, they showed control, composure, positional sense and more than a touch of flair. Every team worked as a team, they showed respect not just for team mates, but opposition as well, and looked to be thoroughly enjoying their afternoon in the sun.
The tournament was a closely fought affair, with no more than 2 goals between teams in any games. In the end, Forthill ran out winners after a remarkable unbeaten afternoon which saw four wins and one draw; second place had to be decided on goal difference after a three way tie on points, with Downfield eventually claiming the runners up spot ahead of St. Marys and Craigowl.
The winners received a somewhat unusual trophy from Marilyn Glen and Colin Stewart.
After a very busy afternoon, Gerry reiterated his thanks to both DFCSS and the ArabTrust for their continued support, but to be honest, seeing the way that this tournament was played, and the enthusiasm shown by everyone involved, any money this league receives from anyone is money well spent. The contribution made by DFCSS can help the continuation of the fantastic work done by everyone in the Dundee Primary league, then who knows, maybe a few Dark Blues of the future may be unearthed.
In addition to the Society's sponsorship of Primary Schools Football, we continue to give support at Secondary Schools level.
Man of the Match Awards were presented by the Society at the U/14 Urquhart Trophy and U/15 Senior Sports Finals held at Dens Park in May, in addition to being Match Sponsors and supplying all the medals to Winners, Runners-up and Officials for the U/15 match.
When Dundee FC went into administration, the SFL docked the club 25 points and their Chief Executive, David Longmuir, made it clear that lessons are not being learned, that HMRC cannot be treated like a credit card, and that the SFL would prepare an early warning system. Since then, other SFL clubs have been found to be behind on their HMRC payments and one has even been served with a winding up order, so Fraser MacDonald took the opportunity at the recent Supporters Direct conference at Hampden to ask Mr Longmuir exactly what the SFL had put in place!
Apparently there is now an agreement with all member clubs that HMRC can divulge details of any default on payments to the SFL. We’ve yet to see the full details of such a system, but Mr Longmuir’s response dealt exclusively with HMRC, and ignored the possibility of building up other debts such as to banks or directors, or the cashflow problems which have seen many clubs unable to pay wages on time. Indeed, Dundee FC have been asked for no proof or assurances whatsoever that their budget for the coming season is sustainable, so it would appear that the issue of regulating clubs and ensuring they live within their means is still not being taken seriously by the league’s governing body, and it will still be up to supporters’ trusts to do this!
Following the panel debate, David Longmuir (to his credit) made a point of speaking to the Dundee FC delegation, after we had accepted his congratulations following the fans ownership of the club, discussion turned to more serious matters. David Longmuir stated that he had no desire to punish Dundee FC as heavily and expressed his pleasure and admiration for what the fans, Barry Smith, the players and the club have achieved since administration. John Keith stated that the effect of the punishment was to force the hard pressed fans and employees of the club who had committed no infraction to face (on top of the effects of administration), the possible loss of their jobs and an increased threat of the demise of one of the oldest clubs in Scotland. The injustice felt by all at Dundee FC was ultimately what had galvanised the whole community to achieve what many had thought impossible.
Mr Longmuir and John Keith then discussed the SPL proposals of Neil Doncaster’s; John questioned the viability of any proposal from the SPL advocating changes to the SFL without the input of the SFL board or clubs, David Longmuir stated that while the relationship between the SPL and the SFL had in the past not been the best and just a few years ago the possibility of both a representative of the SPL and of the SFL being in the same room let alone part of the same panel would have been unheard of , the relationships now are far better, while they still disagree on many matters not least some points in the SPL proposal, he and Neil Doncaster discuss issues and day to day matters frequently.
The SFL have concerns relating to the SPL proposals particularly when Neil Doncaster implied that second and third division teams have lesser ambitions than these of the SPL or First Division, and they are also concerned that all that will be created by a two-tier SPL will be a much greater gulf between the remaining SFL teams and a new SPL2.
While we disagreed strongly with Mr Longmuir’s motivation for the 25 point deduction, he came across as genuine in his admiration for the achievements of Dundee FC this season, his good wishes for Dundee FC next season and appeared relieved that we had emerged intact from the season. We stated that we intended to learn lessons from the past but expressed a desire to move on and build for the future, David Longmuir again offered Dundee his best wishes for the future, we thanked him for his candour and the opportunity to put our point of view across. We certainly hope though that lessons have been learned and that the SFL will take a leaf out of their English counterparts’ book when it comes to financial regulation.
(C) 2004-2013 Dundee FC Supporters' Society Limited. Registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1965-78. Registered No.2639RS
Contact address: Dens Park Stadium.Sandeman Street,Dundee,DD3 7JY