Thompson culls Dundee United squad

mixu 1Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson today wasted no time in turning around the club’s fortunes by firing 21 players and cutting the wage bill by £1.3 million.

Among those leaving Tannadice are John Rankin, Ryan Dow and Calum Morris, along with Guy Demel and Florent Sinema Pongolle.

Manager Mixu Paatelainen (pictured) was sacked following the club’s relegation from the Scottish Premier League.

Paatelainen met the board after stating in an interview that he hoped to be kept on in order to rebuild the team next season.

“I would like to thank the players, staff and supporters,” Paatelainen said after his departure was confirmed.

“It has been a difficult winter and the challenge was huge but nevertheless I have enjoyed every day working for the club and with this group of players.”

A statement was issued by chairman Stephen Thompson on Tuesday stating that changes were on the cards at Tannadice to restore the club’s fortunes.

Raith Rovers boss and former Tannadice player Ray McKinnon is an early favourite to replace the former Hibs favourite and Finland coach should he leave.

He refused to comment ahead of Raith’s important first leg play-off match against Hibernian which the Kirkcaldy club won 1-0.

United’s defeat to city rivals Dundee finally ended any chance of surviving in the top division after a miserable year spent propping up the table. The club will lose £1 million in revenue as a result of relegation.

In his statement earlier this week, Mr Thompson said: “I have backed managers with the third biggest budget in the league but the results have not been acceptable. In the near future many radical changes will be made to try to ensure our quick return to the top league.”

Paatelainen succeeded Jackie McNamara in October with the team only two points from safety. They are now 11 points adrift of Kilmarnock.

Mr Thompson has recently been in talks with potential investors and has dropped hints that he may sell the Tannadice club in which he holds a 53% stake.

His full statement:

“Dundee United have let you, the supporters, down this season. I apologise unreservedly to all of you for our relegation from the Ladbrokes Premiership.

“As the chairman, the buck stops with me and I accept full responsibility for what has happened. The big decisions were mine and I got some of them wrong.

“I have backed managers with the third biggest budget in the league but the results have not been acceptable.

“In the near future many radical changes will be made to try to ensure our quick return to the top league.

“Further changes will see increased fan representation as well as boardroom changes to re-vitalise and re-energise the club.

“There will also be much better, more regular, more open and transparent communication with you, the fans, who are the lifeblood of Dundee United.

“I am currently seeking fresh investment in the club which may in time lead to me standing aside, and I aim to strengthen our current financial position to launch a bid for an immediate return to the top flight.

“I understand calls for change and am open to realistic well-funded proposals that can bring in major investment.

“However, with the serious financial challenges we face in the Championship, I will not put the club’s existence in peril by simply handing over the keys unless any proposed investor is well financed and can offer a sustainable alternative.

“The board has worked over a period of time to review and restructure the club.

“Financially, there will be a substantial drop in income due to relegation that will mean cost reductions across the club.

“These include both on and off-field operations that will be implemented after consultation with employees.

“I am determined to return this club to the top of Scottish football as soon as possible and once again offer every United supporter my unreserved apologies for what has happened on my watch.

“I ask you now for your continued support: already over 1,100 have renewed your season ticket during our loyalty period and I thank you for this excellent take-up.

“It has never been more sorely needed as the job of rebuilding this great club for the future begins in earnest.”

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