IT HAS been a bad season so far for Dundee United – bottom of the Scottish Premiership, out of Europe early on, hammered 9-0 by Celtic and 7-0 by Alkmaar. It has certainly been a tough baptism for their coach, Liam Fox. While their home form has improved, their away results continue to be dire; there’s no doubt that Fox will have his work cut out to take the Tangerines away from relegation trouble.
But from a financial perspective, Dundee United saw their revenues rise from £ 3.8 million in 2020-21 to £ 8.3 million in 2021-22, the highest level of income over the past decade. Their pre-tax loss was £ 1 million, an improvement on the previous season which saw them lose £ 2.6 million. Post-tax, Dundee United made a profit of £ 280,000. The financials include a £ 600,000 covid insurance payout as well as a £ 100,000 Scottish government grant.
The club’s wage bill rose to a record £ 5.9 million, representing 71% of income, a vast improvement on 2020-21 when salaries were 132% of earnings. Since 2013, Dundee United’s wages have gone up by 80% and they have doubled since 2017.
Dundee United’s “football” revenues totalled £ 5.3 million (matchday and broadcasting combined) from an average home gate of 6,500 at Tannadice, contributing 64% of income. Commercial activity brought in £ 1.9 million, 23% of the overall total. A final placing of fourth meant they qualified for the Europa Conference League in 2022-23, but the run lasted two games in which they lost 7-1 on aggregate to Dutch side Alkmaar.
In 2021-22, the club enjoyed their best profit on player sales since 2018, about £ 1.3 million from the sales of Lawrence Shankland (£ 1 million to Beerschot) and Kerr Smith to Aston Villa (£ 2 million). They spent £ 435,000 on players, notably the £ 315,000 paid to Ingolstadt for Finnish winger Ilmari Niskanen. Ogren insists that as well as developing their own talent, player trading is an important part of the club’s business model. Over the past 10 years, their net spend is £ 9 million, suggesting the player development strategy is paying off. A total of 17 players from the academy played in the first team
In the summer of 2022, Dundee United were very active in the market and signed Dylan Levitt from Manchester United for a figure thought to be £ 300,000. Levitt is in the Wales squad for the World Cup in Qatar. They also acquired Australian goalkeeper Mark Birighitti from Central Coast Mariners and Rangers’ winger Glenn Middleton.
The pandemic had an impact on the club’s liquidity and although they have a healthy £ 2.7 million of cash, they do have borrowings of over £ 12 million, most of which is due to the club’s owner. Chairman and owner Mark Ogren said that finishing fourth exceeded the expectations they had in 2021-22. He also told fans the club is firmly behind Liam Fox and is confident of reaching the top six by the end of the season. Ogren’s aim is to make Dundee United self sufficient as he has stated that he is not willing to fund the club forever. According to media reports, he has already pumped in approximately £ 13 million.