Aberdeen tar­get Old Firm with At­lanta part­ner­ship

Scottish Daily Mail - - Football - By JOHN McGARRY

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.’

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