It was Ice Hockey that brought him to Dundee initially. A failed joint venture with former Perth Panthers player Fraser McCall had them looking at the Dundee Tigers but he would try to go it alone and purchase shares. After failing to attract local Government support and a previous deal with William Low for £1.9 million being agreed on the old Dundee Ice Rink, his plans and vision were dead in the water.
His attention soon turned to Dundee FC.
One rumour I heard that bought the club to his attention was that he had been driving past Dens Park one day, he saw then owner Angus Cook’s Rolls-Royce parked outside and that was that.
Nonetheless, Dixon was appointed to the board in December and soon found himself as owner of the club in January 1992 when he purchased 71per cent of the club’s stock. He claimed that the club was only a few hours from going bust and upon his arrival at Dens Park, was met by creditors from the Bank of Scotland who were ready to wind Dundee FC up.
“When I walked through the doors for the first time, I was met by three bankers,” explained Dixon.
“They said enough was enough and they were calling in the receiver. However, I talked to them and they agreed to accept a cheque for a five-figure sum and wait until it cleared before doing anything else.”
His mother was born to Scots-immigrant parents in Canada and he cities his Grandmother’s pride in her roots as the reason for buying the club.
“She's the one who got me into Dundee,'' he revealed in an interview with the Herald in 1995.
“She lived to be a ripe old age and by then I was a businessman of some repute and had some money. She asked me if I ever got the chance to do something for the old country. That's what got me started at Dundee.''
The following month after taking the reins, the new owner laid out his vision for the future in an Extraordinary Meeting. One of the main talking points was a new share issues and his plans to redevelop Dens Park – which will "tower over the playing surface like a colossus."
£8 million was to be spend on a new stand to replace the Derry/South Enclosure and in it would see an ice-rink and conference centre along with the greyhound racing making a comeback. The new stand would seat 8,500 spectators and once complete, both area behind the goal would also be redeveloped to bring the capacity to 25,000 with it being lowered later to 20,500 after seating was added. Considering the clubs average attendance was just under 4,000, it was very optimistic.
In his first few years, Dundee splashed the cash as they signed Jim Leighton (£200,000), Dusan Vrto (£200,000), Morten Wieghorst (£225,000 which was Dixon’s own money and a then club record fee) and Piotr Czachowski and Dariusz Adamczuck (for a fee which was reported to be £500,000 each but was later said to be less than half that). The First Division title was won along with a place in the top league and the Main Stand was given a makeover as the foundations for the greyhound track were set up.
Unfortunately, Dundee would suffer two relegations in four seasons and any plans for future stadium development were cancelled. The stand with a built-in ice-rink was no more. The share issue he had hoped to raise serious money from failed to grab the supporters’ attention. A debt to the Royal Bank of Scotland would be paid from Dixon’s personal fund but the debt amount of £570,000 would now be repayable to himself - albeit it was interest-free.
With it now becoming quite apparent that there was not a lot of money to be made in Dundee and indeed Scottish football, Dixon’s attention waned.
Prior to Dundee’s Coca Cola League Cup Semi Final in 1995 against Airdrie, Dixon had not been seen on this side of the Atlantic for over a year and had left the club in the hands of the unpaid board, which consisted of local businessmen. Things had gotten so bad under his leadership that Jim Duffy, who was manager at the time, recalled the chairman telling him that, “the key was in the door” if they did not reach the final. The late Malcolm Reid also backed up those claims by saying, “If we lost, I was coming to Dens in the morning, locking all the doors and putting the keys through the letter box.”
Dundee did of course win the match and make the final which the absent chairman made the trip over to see. But his visit in November 1995, according to The Scotsman, had the chairman demanding the sale of Morten Wieghorst to pay off some of his debt he had acquired elsewhere. The sale of the Danish international wasn’t the only time directors saw little money end up at the club from the sale of players. Neil McCann and Jim Hamilton headed to the exit door, no doubt at the demand of Dixon, with little of the money going back into the playing resources while the sale of Lee Power and Paul Tosh to Hibs had Jim Duffy directly negotiating with Dixon, with the current board in Dundee unaware of the events.
In an farewell letter to Dundee fans in one the matchday programme on the 9th December, Dixon wrote about his decision to sell the club and how not only had he gotten the club on a sound financial footing, he was also not a believer in buying your way to the top. He set up a timescale and that was now up so it was time for him to move on.
The funny thing about this letter is when he first addressed the fans in Edinburgh back in 1992, he said, “We aren’t interested in 8th or 2nd place in the Premier League, we want to be challenging for top spot." He left with Dundee languishing in the old First Division.
Interestingly, he also mentioned in his letter that he felt that Dundee and our rivals Dundee United should have merged and he had spent three years trying to make this happen. How much truth there is to this is another matter.
He would drop the asking price of the club to £1.7 million at the tail end of 1996 with the club owing money to him to the tune of just over a million. Dixon’s time at Dens and indeed in Scotland was drawing to a close. He set foot on Scottish soil for the first and last time since the League Cup Final when he flew back in March 1997. On his arrival, Dixon said ''I will be in Scotland until almost the end of the season. During that time, I expect my term as chairman to come to an end.” For once he stayed true to his word and he had resigned his directorship leaving Malcolm Reid as acting chairman just over a month later.
There had been interest in the club from two local sources. Property tycoon Michael Johnston had tabled a £1.2 million bid to buy the club but withdrew the offer after the sale of Power and Tosh, declaring himself angry at the situation. This left Peter and Jimmy Marr, who Dixon described as having all the personal qualities he felt were important to take over Dundee as he didn’t want to return a year later and discover houses where Dens used to be. This was no doubt a dig at Johnston, who he never regarded as a serious contender.
The Marrs never publicly acknowledged their desire to buy the club until 25th March 1997 with the comment, “Things have certainly gone on between us, but that is all I am prepared to say at the moment”. But they had already made a formal written offer of £1.3 million to buy the club and repay Dixon’s debt a month earlier. They would then have to wait until 17th June before they could end Dixon’s mostly absent reign by buying the club for £1.3 million. The Marr's also noted after they had takeover the club that almost £1 million had been miss-directed on the greyhound facilities.
Ex owner Angus Cook said after the sale, "Mr Dixon was promised a ticker tape welcome and he was given that. All he has delivered is sheriff officers, writs and debts."
Dixon seemed to think his time at Dens was a success when we all knew too well it was an absolute disaster. It could have, and nearly did on a few occasions, kill the club.
Jim Duffy used to pay for washing powder to clean the players’ gear out of his own pocket. If that was the sound financial footing that Dixon claimed to have left the club in then I shudder to think of the state of any of his other businesses. The club lived hand to mouth for many a year.
Ron Dixon died in March 2000 but that still didn't stop his name causing controversy. Some suggest that he faked his own death. His nickname "Vancouver Warlord" implied connections with the Mafia.
Even while he was alive and at Dens, his opponents argued that Ronnie Dixon wasn’t his real name and he was in fact called Barry Nowakowski. He labelled these accusations as “pure bullshit” and that if “You promise to buy me six Glenfiddichs and a nice steak, I'll show you my birth certificate. It shows Ronald Barry Noble Dixon.”
So for the people that didn't know who Ron Dixon was, you do now….if that was even his real name.
'For any fans that are too young to remember Ron Dixon, he was a Canadian millionaire who purchased Dundee Football Club back in 1992 and remained owner until the Marrs bought him out in 1997. He was a man who was full of ideas and big plans but rarely ever backed them up. His era started with hopes of making Dundee a force in Scottish football again but it would ultimately end with the club nearly going bust. Some would describe him as a charlatan, some would use much stronger words.'
View full news article
After finding ourselves a goal down after Connor Sammon had put Partick Thistle in the lead, Dundee pulled off a dramatic comeback thanks to Murray’s goals in the last six minutes by pulling level and then netting the winner right at the death.
After the match, Murray was visibly ecstatic to have scored his first goals for the boyhood club.
"Every goal is special, but I was brought up supporting Dundee and I just wanted to get off to a good start," he said.
"I was on a wee patch of not scoring, so hopefully that's my confidence back and I'm raring to go.
"I want to score in every game. Sometimes you miss chances, but he believed in me. Maybe I try too hard, but I don't see that as a bad thing.
"We've had a couple of disappointing results, but it's great to get the three points. I just need to kick on and hopefully there's more to come."
"You wait so long for one and then two come at the same time," Murray said.
"I kept going, the manager stuck with me and I paid him back with a couple of goals."
After a run of defeats, Neil McCann has hailed this victory over Thistle because after scoring the late equaliser, the team continued to strive the winner and all three points.
"It's a huge win for us, considering we're coming off a very poor result in midweek," McCann said.
"I felt the first half was reflective of how we felt after Tuesday night. We sat too deep, our midfield was too close to our defence, but we adjusted that in the second half and I felt we were the better side.
"I'm pleased because we didn't panic, continued to play and it was two fantastic goals. I'm so delighted for Simon Murray, you could see what it meant to him to score for the club he grew up supporting.
"He maybe snatched at a few and I said to him to relax a wee bit. He was maybe hunting for the goal so badly because it meant so much to him. He got his first and the second one he was just in the right place at the right time.
"We weren't just content in going for the point, which pleased me. It's a great feeling in the dressing room just now."
Alan Fraser from The Jagcast was ever so kind to talk to us at the last minute and answer some hastily put together questions!
This is the first of three very important matches for Partick Thistle. After us you square up away to both Hamilton and Ross County. Could these three games define your season?
It's squeaky bottom relegation dogfight time with the present bottom five clubs semi-detached from Motherwell and Kilmarnock at the moment. Of course these are three big games for Thistle and our respective opponents. Hard to not deal in cliches, six pointers etc.
Correct me if I’m wrong but I think Thistle only brought in player in the January window (Defender Baily Cargill). Were you disappointed that Archibald wasn’t involved in more wheeling and dealing?
I really don't think we really needed to strengthen in any other area if the players coming back from injury are fit and ready. Losing Jordan Turnbull was a blow and with Milan Nitriansky being released and James Penrice being recalled from his loan spell at Livingston I think Archie did what was required. The squad now looks much stronger than earlier in the season.
Thistle have a habit of kicking on in the second half of the season. Are you confident that your club can do it again?
Confident? More hopeful than confident I suppose. We have been playing much better recently than earlier in the season. With Kris Doolan still scoring goals and the recent form of Conor Sammon we pose more of a goal threat at present. Time to push on, yes.
Our last match seen Dundee run out 3-0 winners with Danny Devine having a fairly forgettable match. Was this result and performance a bit of a shock to you?
I was a bit shocked at the scoreline that's for sure. I can't comment on the team performance as I didn't make that match. And if Danny Devine had a forgettable match then I'm prepared to forget about it too.
Both teams need a win here massively. I’d be happy with a point at Firhill if Hamilton and County failed to pick up any but how do you think Saturdays match will end?
Saturday's match will end with Thistle running out 4-1 winners.
With just sixteen minutes left to play, the Dark Blues were ahead and looked good for the win with the man advantage but they surrendered the lead and eventually the points by allowing Killie to not only equalise by also grab the winner.
"Only the players can explain why they're not doing their jobs properly," McCann said.
"They've been told and they will be told repeatedly again that it's unacceptable.
"We're 2-1 up and a man up, I've taken off a more attacking player for a defensive player, but for some unknown reason we can't manage that situation.
"We've just got players running and I'm screaming at them from the touchline. We shouldn't lose that game."
McCann was quick to point out that he felt Glen Kamara was fouled in the lead up to Kilmarnock’s winner but refused to blame the match official for Dundee throwing away the three points.
"Glen Kamara is fouled right in front of us, Nick doesn't give it, and he waltzes through, the boy," McCann said.
"I'm not happy with [the referee] not giving a free kick when Kamara was fouled. Other than that, both managers might have a few grumbles. [But] it wasn't the referee's faulty we lost the game."