DUNDEE managing director John Nelms has revealed he wants the Dens Park club to try and emulate their Tayside rivals St Johnstone next season - by challenging for a top six Premiership spot and silverware.

Nelms celebrated as James McPake’s side defeated Kilmarnock 2-1 at Rugby Park on Monday night to win the two-legged play-off final 4-2 on aggregate and clinch promotion back to the top flight.

The American admitted the Covid-19 pandemic had presented the 128-year-old outfit with serious challenges during the 2020/21 campaign.

However, he stressed that McPake would this summer be given the funds that he requires to build a side capable of competing with the likes of Aberdeen, Celtic, Dundee United, Hearts, Hibs and Rangers in the top flight next term

And Nelms argued that St Johnstone’s success – the Perth club won the League Cup and Scottish Cup double – shows Dundee should have far loftier ambitions than just consolidating their league position.

“This year has been very difficult to navigate as we had no idea what was happening,” he said. “It has turned out to be amazing and hopefully that continues.

“Everything we did was a proper graft and I couldn't be more pleased with the manager and his staff.

“James has been with us for a long time.  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. We will take a breath, reset and start again.

“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.”

Nelms added: “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 have bigger ambitions than just staying in the league. 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 (St Johnstone chairman) quite often watching him after the match at the weekend (the Scottish Cup final) 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.”

Nelms, who infamously changed his mind on the SPFL vote to curtail the 2019/20 season and decide final placings on a points per game basis last year, admitted he had enormous sympathy for the fate suffered by Kilmarnock having been through an identical experience three years ago. 

“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.”