Cor­mack de­lays new sta­dium and turns fo­cus on team

Evening Times - - SPORT - Frank Gil­feather

NEW Aberdeen chair­man Dave Cor­mack has ad­mit­ted the club’s plan for a £45m sta­dium at Kings­ford, west of the city, is no longer a top pri­or­ity as he sug­gested they could re­main at cur­rent home, Pit­to­drie Sta­dium, for years to come.

The US-based mul­ti­mil­lion­aire, set to of­fi­cially take over from Ste­wart Milne and run the club as ex­ec­u­tive chair­man di­vid­ing his time be­tween Aberdeen and his home in At­lanta, re­vealed that as the present value of Pit­to­drie sits at just £11m, there was lit­tle point in putting it on to the prop­erty mar­ket.

Cor­mack, an Aber­do­nian who made his for­tune through a soft­ware busi­ness he told for $1 bil­lion, was in­stru­men­tal in rais­ing much of the cash for the re­cently-opened train­ing fa­cil­ity at Kings­ford, along­side which the new sta­dium will sit.

How­ever, he has now pulled back from a com­mit­ment from Milne, 21 years with the Dons, that the new sta­dium would be up and run­ning by 2023.

De­spite be­ing pleased with the train­ing com­plex, Cor­mack was adamant fund­ing for a new ground was not in place.

The new Dons chair­man did how­ever, an­nounce a “strate­gic part­ner­ship” with MLS club Ata­lanta, with the Amer­i­cans pay­ing out £2m for a seat on the board.

“Lis­ten, £45m is a lot to raise,” he said. “And, if you look at our re­cent re­port, we’ve had Pit­to­drie val­ued re­cently and there is no point in us try­ing to sell. We wouldn’t max­imise the value of Pit­to­drie in the cur­rent down­turn.

“No­body can com­mit to money that isn’t there to­day, but a new sta­dium is our best op­tion.

“Let’s say we got £15m for the sale of Pit­to­drie. Hearts spent £18m build­ing their new stand.

“It would cost us £55m to re­de­velop the stands at Pit­to­drie. So when you weigh that up against £45m for a cus­tom-built sta­dium and you have re­duced the ac­tual cost to £30m due to the sale of Pit­to­drie then that’s a £25m dif­fer­ence at Kings­ford.”

But Cor­mack, who owns 40% of the club, did not rule out re­main­ing at Pit­to­drie, a state­ment that will be wel­comed by fans op­posed to a shift eight miles from the city cen­tre. And he stressed the 2023 date was move­able.

He added: “You can never say never and if we can’t raise the money, then we can’t do it. But we are con­fi­dent our best op­por­tu­nity is to move out to Kings­ford.

“I’m not fix­ated on two years here or six years here.”

Cor­mack, whose foun­da­tion has in­jected a to­tal of more than £9m into the Dons’ cof­fers, di­vulged that the club’s train­ing fa­cil­ity would cost £750,000-ayear to run and the prin­ci­pal pri­or­ity would now cen­tre on man­ager Derek McInnes’s squad and in­creas­ing the rev­enue stream.

“I want to make sure we are in­vest­ing in the foot­ball team as there is no way we are go­ing to in­vest in a sta­dium and have a team which is ninth in the league,” he said. “The crit­i­cal fac­tor for us is the per­for­mance of the first team.

“It’s a hard bal­anc­ing act.” He ac­cepted, how­ever, they could never com­pete with Celtic and Rangers in terms of fi­nan­cial clout, de­spite a de­sire to in­crease in­vest­ment.

“We can’t com­pete with Celtic spend­ing £60m on wages, but we can up our game in terms of get­ting play­ers here like Funso Ojo and Ryan Hedges.

“They wouldn’t sign for us un­til they saw how the train­ing ground was com­ing along.

“Plus, we think we can raise £3m-£5m more of in­come which will al­low us to in­vest in the team.”

Mean­while, At­lanta United pres­i­dent Dar­ren Eales, a for­mer ex­ec­u­tive with West Bromwich Al­bion and Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur, has taken a seat on the Aberdeen board to ce­ment the new link be­tween the clubs.

He said the Dons fit­ted the bill for a part­ner­ship with At­lantic owner Arthur Blank, who owns NFL outfit At­lanta Fal­cons, was right be­hind the deal which he un­der­lined was in no way the be­gin­ning of a takeover.

“Scout­ing is a nat­u­ral tie-up,” he said. “Sports science is another and, in terms of our re­sources in the MLS and the NFL, there are ideas we can share with Aberdeen and vice versa.

“We are a new club only in year three and Aberdeen is a club with a great his­tory and her­itage and we can learn from them.”

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