One of the few downsides of living in Edinburgh is that I’m unable to make events like that held last night, where Dundee FC CEO Scot Gardiner conducted a lengthy Q&A session open to all fans on the proposals for league reconstruction. From what I could follow of the event on Facebook and Twitter, Scot’s explanation of the ramifications of reconstruction for the club went down well with those attending, and many fans left with both a clearer understanding of the ostensibly complex proposed set-up and more enthusiasm for the project (fuelled in part by the promise of a more evenly distributed cash pot).
As encouraging as the feedback seems to be, what is more encouraging is the increased transparency and engagement with fans that this Q&A session exemplified. Before our most recent bout of administration, Dundee FC was synonymous in Scottish football with administrative incompetence, short-sightedness, secrecy and financial mismanagement. Given that it was the fans that suffer both in the hearts and their wallets when we once more skated close to extinction, it was inevitable that the Dundee that emerged on the other side would be more responsive to, and engaged with, those very fans.
It’s only really when I look back at our Club’s previous efforts that I realise how much has changed since then. In a world ever more reliant on technology, the Club has finally got round to establishing itself on social media, using the platform to effectively drive forward our “brand” and community engagement with the team. Although the unofficial fan-owned Facebook page started during administration (Dundee Football Club Petition to have 25-point Penalty Removed) and Dundee Mad are still my primary sources for up-to-date titbits and rumours, we have at least now joined the rest of the SPL in having an official social media presence. Along with a revamped website (which could still be improved-Aberdeen’s website, for example, is tremendously detailed and easy to use), the Club has revolutionised the ability of the ordinary punter to get involved and to help ensure a solid future for the team.
This solid future relies heavily on more scrupulous financial management, and it’s heartening to see Dundee finally get to grips with this too. After administration, the Club’s Board of Directors (with fan involvement) agreed a set of 5 Key Performance Indicator (KPI) targets that it would regularly report on to give fans and the public an idea of the club’s finances. Combined with the semi-regular Q&A sessions held with members of the Board (the details of which are disseminated far and wide), I feel far more informed and involved about the Club’s situation off the pitch than I ever did before, which makes me feel far more confident about my team’s future than you’d expect from somebody who’s lived through two periods of administration.
A supporter’s life is difficult enough without those running their beloved club adding to our woes. There will be mistakes made, and complaints about the running of the club will always be there (the debacle over Barry Smith’s position at the turn of the year, which was apparently misreported by the media, is an early warning of that), but if these efforts to keep the fans informed, keep our feet on the ground and open our wallets only sparingly continue, then hopefully all of our complaints in the
future will be directed at those on the park, and not in the boardroom.