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United fan buys Dundee's stadium

By Jim Spence

Dens Park
Dundee were relegated from the Scottish Premier League in 2005

Dundee's Dens Park stadium has been bought by soon-to-be Dundee United director John Bennett.

The millionaire also has an option to buy the controlling 60% stake in the First Division club for just £1.

Bennett has injected money into Dundee before and has now paid the bank around £500,000 for the club's debt.

Dundee now owe their debt of £7.5m to Bennett, who will rejoin the United board in the near future after stepping down at Tannadice in September 2008.

Bennett told BBC Scotland: "I was asked to help Dundee and did not like the thought of them going out of business, despite the fact that I am a United man.

"I have been in the city since 1965 and am a naturalised Dundonian."

The retired property surveyor from Aberdeen was on the United board under the club's previous chairman, Eddie Thompson, who beat him to buying the club in 2002.

After leaving Tannadice, Bennett gave in the region of £400,000 to the cash-strapped First Division club but declined to have any say in the club's direction.

Calum Melville, a recently appointed Director of Dundee FC, has instigated negotiations with Mr Bennett to relieve him of his interests in the club

Dundee chairman Bob Brannan

Current United chairman Stephen Thompson is keen to have bring him back and he has been kept fully informed of Bennett's dealings with their neighbours.

The prospect of having a United director owning their stadium is likely to anger Dundee fans, who will be concerned for the future of their club.

But Bennett has given Dundee use of the stadium rent-free for the next two-and-a-half years and has already had talks with new Dundee director Calum Melville about selling the ground to him.

It is believed it would take an offer of around £1m to buy the ground from Bennett.

Should Bennett exercise the clause to buy the controlling share in Dundee, it could cast doubt over possible fresh investment in the team, since Bennett would be entitled to take any fresh money as the club's main creditor.

Dundee chairman Bob Brannan responded on his club website to news of Bennett taking control of the stadium.

"Over the last 14 months, John Bennett has made various approaches to buy Dundee FC," he said.

"He has failed to follow through each time, citing challenging domestic circumstances.

"During this period, he has loaned various sums of money to the club in return for an option to buy a controlling interest.

"In recent months, he has repeatedly made it clear to the DFC Board that he has no intention of exercising this option."

Brannon said that Dundee could not comment further as the club was prevented from doing so by a confidentiality agreement and that Bennett was bound by the same agreement.

However, he added: "It is true that Calum Melville, a recently appointed Director of Dundee FC, has instigated negotiations with Mr Bennett to relieve him of his interests in the club."



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see also
Bennett shelves Dundee takeover
08 Oct 08 |  Dundee


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