IT’S A NEW DON
Aberdeen target Old Firm with Atlanta partnership
ABERDEEN have agreed a partnership with Atlanta United as part of a major shake-up at the Pittodrie club — with incoming chairman Dave Cormack insisting it will give them a better chance of challenging Celtic and Rangers.
The MLS outfit will buy a stake just short of 10 per cent in the Dons in a £2million investment, which is part of a total cash influx of £5m.
The ultimate goal is to be more competitive in the Premiership and Europe, with Cormack saying last night: ‘The new investment and this partnership with Atlanta will allow us to punch above our weight, aspiring to attain UEFA’s top-100 status, and trying to level the playing field against significantly higher income generated by Celtic and Rangers.
‘There are some real challenges ahead but, with the support of my fellow directors and new investors, along with our fans,
we will do our utmost to deliver success which, at the end of the day, is measured by the team’s performance.’ Aberdeen also confirmed last night that chairman Stewart Milne will step down after over two decades with the club, as reported by Sportsmail on Saturday, with vice-chairman Cormack (right) stepping into his shoes after the AGM on December 16. Milne said last night: ‘For four years, we’ve been working on a succession plan. It’s been no easy task to find the right person who is willing to take on the onerous role of chairman, with responsibility for both the financial health and growth of the club. ‘In bringing Dave on to the board and then appointing him vice-chairman, we viewed him as the natural successor. He is prepared to take on the commitment and has already proved his ability to secure significant new investment. Importantly, he is passionate about Aberdeen and the club.’ Although the MLS side will have ‘no operational involvement’ in the Scottish Premiership outfit, the partnership will seek to boost sporting and commercial opportunities for both clubs. AMB Sports & Entertainment (AMBSE), the parent company of Atlanta, will invest £2m and will see Darren Eales, Atlanta’s president, join the Dons board. It’s believed the fresh investment will provide working capital for Aberdeen’s day-to-day operations. Duncan Fraser vacates his chief executive post with immediate effect but remains as a nonexecutive board director, with Milne also staying on as a director. Directors Ian Jack, Duncan Skinner and Craig Brown will also be stepping down to make way for new investors. Former manager Brown will stay at the club in an ambassadorial role, though, and Skinner will continue as chairman of the Board of Trustees of Aberdeen FC Community Trust. US-based software entrepreneur Cormack, whose investors also include Tom Crotty and Roger Lee, has delivered £11.2m of new investment in the club since 2017. Although the £12m Cormack Park training facility is up and running on the north-east of the city, the club have yet to outline how they propose to fund the estimated £50m needed to build their proposed new stadium. ‘As an Aberdonian and lifelong Dons fan, I’m honoured and privileged to become chairman of the famous Aberdeen,’ said Cormack. Paying tribute to Milne’s contribution, he added: ‘During more than 20 years in the driving seat, he has had to deal with some turbulent times, both at the club and within Scottish football. ‘Thanks to his astute commercial acumen, his financial contributions and an unwavering loyalty, both as a chairman and a fan, he has successfully led the club through those times, having to make difficult decisions along the way.’ Altanta president Eales added: ‘We’ve always gone in with the intention of win-win for both clubs. For Atlanta United, it’s really important that this is Aberdeen, already a well-run club. It builds our scouting network, our ability to share best practices across the board from academy through to sports science.’