DUNDEE United are stuck in the Championship.
But Mal Brannigan insists their sights should be set on Europe.
He swept into Tannadice in midweek as United’s new managing director, appointed by US-based owner Mark Ogren to drive the club’s off-field operation.
With directorial experience at Sheffield United and Irish champions, Dundalk, behind him, he knows the modern football landscape will prevent the Tangerines from ever again hitting the glorious heights of the 1980s.
But he insists United should use their title-winning, Barcelona-slaying past as fuel to fire them back into regular European action.
“If we look at a number of clubs that historically have won titles – 20, 30, 40 years ago – they haven’t achieved that again since in any country,” said Brannigan.
“That’s because the amount of revenue coming into football, and how revenue is now generated in this industry, is very different to how it used to be.
“As a result, it’s potentially much less of a level playing field when you’re trying to look at the path and see whether you can achieve that again.
“But is European football achievable again for this football club? Absolutely.
“I think we have to respect what has happened in the past with this football club.
“But that will only go so far because we have to look forward and say: ‘How do we rewrite history going forward?’.”
A successful “rewriting” of history, as Brannigan puts it, will require a redrawing of United’s business model.
For years, selling top talent to service historic “friendly” debt, and fund healthy wages for players, was their modus operandi.
A productive youth system ensured saleable talent kept arriving at first-team level.
But once the cupboard had been completely stripped, the model ceased to function properly.
Along with new sporting director, Tony Asghar, Brannigan will attempt to rebuild United as a profitable entity.
In the short term, that means securing promotion back to the Premiership.
“The path is to get this club back up one division, stay there, and become a sustainable football club as well,” Brannigan said.
“That’s how you measure sustainability – whether it’s from a football perspective or a business perspective, or both.
“It’s about putting the football club back to where it should be.
“I think the finances that are returned from European football have to be part of the business plan going forward,” he said.
“Why do you see overseas owners buying into football clubs in any part of the world?
“It’s because they see that there’s potential for a financial return somewhere along the line.”
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