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Page last updated at 17:28 GMT, Tuesday, 19 October 2010 18:28 UK

Fans and Giovanni di Stefano vie for Dundee ownership

Giovanni di Stefano
Di Stefano was previously involved with Dundee as a director

Dundee fans could face a battle with former director Giovanni di Stefano for the ownership of the financially-stricken First Division club.

Bob Brannan's resignation from club's board was confirmed as he pledged to make his shares available to the fans.

The departure of main benefactor Calum Melville and George Knight were also announced by administrator PKF.

But Di Stefano has written to the club's administrator confirming his interest in purchasing the club.

The flamboyant Italian lawyer, who was on the board when the club last went into administration in 2003, has asked Bryan Jackson to provide him with a figure outlining the club's liabilities and an estimated amount needed to fund them through the season.

"I think the figure will be pretty modest - £300,000 to £500,000," he told BBC Radio Scotland. "Once the season is over you can regroup and take matters from there."

The fans are not going to be sufficient. They don't have the money, the expertise or the credibility

Giovanni di Stefano

Asked why he was interested in a return to Dens Park, he answered: "It's a question of unfinished business. I took a lot of stick unnecessarily in 2003. The situation was not my fault. I was only there for a few weeks. I was misled."

Di Stefano was also quick to rule out any role for fans if he was to get involved again.

"I'm having no partners in this venture, so if anyone, supporters trusts or whatever, thinks they can get on board they can forget it. Partnership is the worst battleship you can sail on.

"If any mistakes are made, I will be to blame, solely. Obviously, I'm not completely stupid. I will take advice.

"If fans walk away because I take over, that would be a damn silly thing to do. It's either one way or no way. This club will die if someone doesn't come in and take it over.

"The fans are not going to be sufficient. They don't have the money, the expertise or the credibility."

Jackson was called into the club last week after an investigation into unpaid taxes brought the club's financial problems into public view.

The administrator revealed that the club's debt was around £2m - £420,000 being owed to the tax authorities - and Jackson concluded that the club had a 50% chance of survival.


He quickly moved to make nine players redundant along with manager Gordon Chisholm, assistant Billy Dodds, youth coach John Holt and kit-man Neil Cosgrove.

Now three directors have followed them out of Dens Park, including Knight, who joined the board as the representative of fans group Dee4Life the last time Dundee entered administration.

Melville had offered to quit a month ago amid difficulties in his personal business life and sources suggest that he still intends to fulfil his pledge to hand over £200,000 to help the club through their administration period.

He is believed to have deposited £50,000 in a club bank account last week and has told Jackson that he will release three more instalments before the end of the year.

Brannan admitted that mistakes had been made but stressed that the club had "eliminated a mountain of bank debt inherited from the administration of 2003".

"It breaks my heart to see its future threatened once again," he said. "The change of strategy adopted in 2009 has clearly failed.

"Calum Melville initially invested heavily with a view to achieving rapid promotion back to the SPL.

Bob Brannan and George Knight
Brannan and Knight helped the club recover from previous administration

"It is a matter of public record that he committed to funding the club through to the end of season 2010/11.

"However, anticipated revenues from operating activities have failed to materialise, the funding gap has grown and Calum's own personal circumstances have changed, all contributing to the current situation."

The club's supporters have already consulted Stirling Albion about their fans' buy-out.

"I have stated many times in the past that it is my desire that the club be owned by the fans," said Brannan.

"Consequently, the 54% of shares currently controlled by me will be made available to the administrator so that he can utilise these for fundraising purposes.

"It is my strong hope that the fans can generate sufficient funds to own and operate the club."

However, Brannan warned that it was only Melville's cash injection that kept Dundee a full-time club.

"Prior to Calum coming along, the club was operating with an annualised deficit of over £300,000 and the only real option available was part-time football," he said.

"Attendances were barely 3,500 again, including a large number of concessions. But for a cup-tie with Celtic and the sale of Kevin MacDonald, things could have become extremely difficult."

Brannan said his biggest achievement was consistently being able to meet wage and tax payments until falling behind this year.

Responding to suggestions that people were hired having been given a false impression of the club's finances, the former chairman insisted: "All contractual obligations entered into by the board were on the basis of committed funding, without which we would not have been able to file the company's accounts in March 2010."

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see also
Dundee fans take Stirling counsel
16 Oct 10 |  Dundee
Dundee future 'hangs in balance'
15 Oct 10 |  Dundee
Stirling Albion 1-1 Dundee
16 Oct 10 |  Scottish League
Axed Dundee players seek clarity
15 Oct 10 |  Dundee
Dundee sale possible - MacKinnon
15 Oct 10 |  Dundee
Administrator appointed by Dundee
08 Oct 10 |  Dundee

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