Cormack delays new stadium and turns focus on team
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.”