Football: Dundee United shun Dundee merger talk

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DUNDEE UNITED are playing down a possible merger with Dundee, claiming there is no reason for change as they are the dominant football partner on Tayside.

A phone poll showed 58 per cent of fans in the city thought a merger was the correct way forward. The Dundee chief executive, Peter Marr, then indicated he would be willing to hold talks with his counterparts. But United believe the clubs are not equal and put their point emphatically in a statement yesterday, sanctioned by their chairman, Jim McLean. It read: "We wish to make it clear that no consideration whatsoever has been or will be given to a merger or amalgamation with Dundee.

"The only basis on which we could consider jointly working with Dundee would be a takeover by us. Dundee is a club about to invest heavily in its stadium. Dundee United is a club which has already invested pounds 7million in its own stadium.

"We have worked hard to retain a healthy balance sheet, have ensured there are significant resources continually available to the manager to add to the playing staff and is presently pursuing its own long-term plans for major external investment. On that basis the clubs are not equal. We fully understand, however, that at present takeover is not an option that is acceptable to Dundee or its supporters."

Dundee are redeveloping their Dens Park stadium in accordance with Premier League guidelines. But while they say a merger is not in their thoughts they admit they do not have the funding yet to carry out the work, which must be completed by July.

Their vice-chairman, Derek Souter, said: "We would like to confirm we are not planning to merge or ground share with Dundee United. The proposed redevelopment plans at Dens Park, an absolute requirement to maintain SPL status, will be going ahead.

"However, it has to be stressed that due to a combination of factors the club does not have all the necessary funding in place at this time. The primary objective of the board within the next two months is to ensure this funding gap is bridged."

A small band of Dundee fans staged a demonstration against any possible merger at Ibrox on Saturday after the 6-1 defeat by Rangers. Souter said: "Perhaps it takes times and events like those experienced last week to get people to focus on just how much Dundee means to them. It has certainly reinforced to all at Dundee how much our supporters love the club."