Updated: Dec 30, 2020
The future may still be orange; unfortunately under the present leadership it may not be all that bright.
In 2009 I attended the launch of a Dundee United centenary exhibition at the Steps Theatre in Dundee’s Central Library. The opening remarks were given by the then recently appointed United chairman Stephen Thompson who referred to the beginnings of the club “which of course began as Dundee …” and this point his voice trailed off as he obviously couldn’t remember what Dundee United had originally been called. “What was it again?” he asked a United historian seated in front of me.
At the time I was embarrassed for him but on reflection the incident may be telling. Even if he didn’t know such a basic fact about the club’s beginnings he should have ensured that his notes provided him with the necessary prompt. A stumble at the beginning of a speech is always understandable but in this case it merely underlined stories I had heard about a lack of application to his job as a director when the club was under the stewardship of his late father, Eddie.
After over four years as chairman, there is increasing evidence that Stephen Thompson is someone who mostly reacts to events, there’s no sign of a long-term strategy. Public disagreements with other individuals and bodies within Scottish football regularly flare up and do nothing for his or the club’s reputation. Worse still, such publicity could adversely affect Dundee United’s dependency on the size of other clubs’ travelling support for many years to come.
Undeniably he has made mistakes but it’s not all Stephen Thompson’s fault. His appointment was due entirely to him being the son of a self-made man, raising the inevitable questions about his suitability for the job. Right from the beginning he regularly referred to the length of time he has been a Dundee United supporter but, to this observer at least, he fails to convince. There appears to be a lack of conviction in his demeanour; is his heart really in the job, or is it an unwanted inheritance?
Would he reject an offer to buy the club, or would he cut and run? Sadly we are unlikely to know the answer to that one as there’s an extremely limited number of people wishing to purchase a club of Dundee United’s size. The future may still be orange; unfortunately under the present leadership it may not be all that bright.