Dundee urged to emulate St Johnstone trophy triumphs on return to top flight

St Johnstone v Hibernian – Scottish Cup – Final – Hampden Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

John Nelms says Dundee must look to emulate St Johnstone’s trophy-winning feats as he insisted top-flight stability is no longer enough for Scotland’s provincial powers.

The Dens Park side are set to return to the Scottish Premiership next season after getting the better of Kilmarnock in the play-offs.

But Dees chief executive Nelms has set his sights higher than just scrambling for survival among the big boys.

And the American businessman wants manager James McPake to aspire to matching the double-winning feats of Saints boss Callum Davidson.

The Perth boss has set a new standard for clubs outside of the Old Firm after ending his rookie season in charge by lifting both the Betfred Cup and the Scottish Cup.

“James has been with us for a long time,” said Nelms. “All the players have bought into what he is doing and while mistakes have been made he learns from it and moves on.

“You can see that throughout the season we have got better and better and more consistent.

“But we have bigger ambitions than just staying in the league next season. We want to be in the top six.

“St Johnstone are the marker for all of us and we want to win some silverware.

“I talk to Steve Brown quite often. Watching him after the match at the weekend, he was in tears. That’s how much that meant to him.

“To do the double is almost like Leicester winning the league.

“Things like this can happen if you get on a right run and get the right guy.”

But Nelms has promised McPake he will get the resources he needs to ensure Dundee cut the strings on their yo-yo club status.

He said: “We never want to be back in the Championship again. It is a hard slog to get out of this league and we don’t want to be there.

“We are always trying to learn to make sure we don’t make those mistakes again.

“We will try to do things a different way and the right way.

“We will have a look at (the budget) but we have never starved our manager of finances.

“Within reason we will do what we have to do and try to build a proper, sound, stable team.

“Being in the Championship really laser-focuses your attention, as did being in the middle of a pandemic.”

It took the Dark Blues two goes at escaping the second tier after being relegated back in 2019.

And Nelms has sympathy for the position Killie owner Billy Bowie finds himself in after the Rugby Park outfit’s 28-year in Scotland’s top division was finally brought to an end.

But he warned the Ayrshire outfit they face a scrap to regain their place among the major powers.

“I have been there,” he said. “It is the worst feeling.

“Right now they have to take a step back and re-evaluate what they are going to do.

“They are a big club and they will want to come right back up but you have to graft.

“They are the club with the target on their back and every game they play will be a cup final.”

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