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When someone raises their head above the parapet in wanting to buy a football club, the first question usually raised is "what are they in it for?" It's a question currently being asked of Giovanni di Stefano and his interest in crisis-hit Dundee.
The Italian-born businessman and lawyer reportedly contacted the Dens Park club's administrator to find out the true nature of the financially stricken side's debt and problems with a view to taking over control and bring them back from the brink.
That was, at least, until the Scottish Football League last week handed down a 25-point penalty and player registration embargo. Whether his interest in acquiring the club has cooled in light of these sanctions is unknown, but at the very least, he has offered to defend them for free as they appeal the penalty.
All that's missing is the cavalry charge and the white horse, but one has to wonder about the motives of Di Stefano. It's a question asked by the Scottish media, not to mention Dundee fans, who have seen enough rogue owners and imposters in their time.
Bear in mind this is a man who can count Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein, pop star turned paedophile Gary Glitter, serial killer Dr Harold Shipman and Serbian warlord Zeljko 'Arkan' Raznatovic among clients he's defended in the courtroom.
This sort of client list has led to him being dubbed "The Devil's Advocate", so what sort of attraction does the 55-year-old see in a struggling second-tier, perhaps soon to be third-tier, Scottish football team?
It's a fair question to ask. After all, what affiliation with the club or the city is there for him? It's like me willing to pour my earnings into a Welsh amateur team from a town I've never visited. In fact I've never even been to Wales. [You should, it's very nice - Ed.]
Firstly it's been reported in the past that his son, Michele, started following the Dark Blues when he was schooled at top private school Gordonstoun.
Another reason is perhaps a more obvious one. Di Stefano sees it as a chance to complete some "unfinished business" with the Scottish First Division side, after bearing the brunt of the fans' anger following their administration in 2003, when he joined the board and was soon plunged into helping the ailing club.
Fast-forward seven years and that experience doesn't seem to have scared him away. After attempts to put money into Norwich City and Irish side Shelbourne, it appears he's happy to return to Tayside and help the club in their hour of need.
When he was first involved, they were an SPL side who had spent big to qualify for Europe and reached the top six. When they went into administration, there were debts of £23 million. Now, they're stuck in Division One, reportedly £2m in the red, with the threat of liquidation by Christmas if an unpaid tax bill is not settled.
On entering administration, they shed nine players as well as the management team of Gordon Chisholm and Billy Dodds in an attempt to slash costs in the face of the crippling debt. Initially keen to fund them until at least the end of the season, Di Stefano seems to desperately want to put right the supposed wrongs he was accused of being involved in.
Di Stefano in the Dens Park directors' box, 2003
"I took a lot of stick unnecessarily in 2003," he said in recent interview. "The situation was not my fault. I was only there for a few weeks. I was misled."
Whatever his motives are, his announcement will be greeted by many Dundee fans with mistrust and suspicion, given his perceived part in the administration of 2003. But there may come a point that if he's the only one willing to help out, they may need to turn to him.
Di Stefano claims the fans don't have the business expertise to be able to run the club, which may be doing those willing to put themselves forward a disservice, but he'll need the help of the supporters to get the club back on board.
Given their recent experiences of owners and benefactors who promise so much yet deliver so, Di Stefano should understand the suspicions they'll have. After all, the last thing they need is another jaunt up another garden path.
I remember a programme on this chap years ago; his passion for shifty characters, his confession of being a supporter of the 'Partito Nazionale Fascista', his strange philosophy...
I was wondering, considering Dundee's misfortune, how long he would take to turn up.
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