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Tuesday, February 23, 1999 Published at 13:52 GMT

United rule out merger

Dundee may be genuinely United if the plan went ahead

The chance of a merger between Dundee United and neighbours and Premier League rivals Dundee looks increasingly unlikely.

A recent telephone poll in the local Evening Telegraph newspaper showed that 58 per cent of football fans in the city felt that an amalgamation of the two clubs was the best way forward.

Dundee chief executive Peter Marr indicated a willingness to discuss the matter.

But United do not see the two clubs as equals and say the only possible link-up would be a takeover of Dundee by them.

A statement issued by United read: "Dundee is a club about to invest heavily in its stadium. Dundee United is a club which has already invested 7m 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."

The clubs are the closest local rivals in British football - there would scarcely be room for a third football pitch in the 160m between the grounds at Tannadice and Dens Park.

It is just 12 years since United were in a European final, but both Tayside clubs are now struggling for results and crowds in the Premier League.

United are just two places off the bottom with crowds of around 5,000 for home games in a city with 180,000 inhabitants.

Dundee are one place higher in the table but attract just 3,000 people to most games at Dens Park and are heavily in debt.

Vice-chairman Derek Souter said redevelopment work would go ahead, but appealed to supporters to dip into their pockets and help fund the work at Dens Park.

"For those who are regulars and even those who are not, please give us your emotional and financial support."

He added: "We would like to confirm we are not planning to merge or ground share with Dundee United."

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