Reds work on next phase of the master­plan

● Place in top 100 clubs and Europa League group stages are Dons’ tar­gets now that Cor­mack Park fa­cil­i­ties are in place

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - SPORT - BY PAUL THIRD

Cor­mack Park is a ma­jor step for­ward in the evo­lu­tion of Aberdeen Foot­ball Club. For decades the Dons have re­mained stag­nant, scram­bling around for train­ing pitches on a daily ba­sis.

One de­lay af­ter an­other has led to an ag­o­nis­ing wait stretch­ing decades but the post­pone­ments are no more. At last, Aberdeen have a place of their own they can proudly call home.

But a train­ing ground and com­mu­nity hub is the only the start­ing point as far as the club is con­cerned.

Aberdeen have bold, big plans for the fu­ture and vice-chair­man Dave Cor­mack, who helped sub­stan­tially fund the near £13 mil­lion devel­op­ment with in­vest­ment from the United States, where he is based nine months of the year, says the board of di­rec­tors at the club want to re­store the club’s stand­ing in Europe.

No-one is ex­pect­ing a re­peat of the hal­cyon days of 1983 when the Dons con­quered Euro­pean gi­ants Bay­ern Mu­nich and Real Madrid en route to win­ning the Cup Win­ners’ Cup on a fate­ful, rainy night in Gothen­burg, but Cor­mack sees no rea­son why his club shouldn’t be aim­ing high re­gard­less.

He said: “Foot­ball has changed but we have an ap­petite here at Aberdeen for Euro­pean foot­ball and it doesn’t need to be Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bay­ern Mu­nich to turn up th­ese days.

“We have an as­pi­ra­tion to get to the group stages of the Europa League or how­ever that changes in Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion.

“In 2008 we had one qual­i­fy­ing round to get into the group stages, when Jimmy Calder­wood was here. We now have to get through four and that is par­tic­u­larly tough but we have an as­pi­ra­tion to be a top 100 club.

“We have made some progress and now we are about 170, but if we can get to the group stages on a reg­u­lar ba­sis then we will ab­so­lutely be in that top 100.

“The most im­por­tant thing for us is that we have a longer-term vision and we have mapped out our goals for the club to be com­pet­i­tive and clearly, even with a £9 mil­lion wage bill com­pared to Celtic’s £60 mil­lion, then it dwarfs what we do, although it is bet­ter than what some of the other teams have.

“For us to com­pete on the pitch our goal is to put as much as we can, while be­ing sen­si­ble, into the foot­ball bud­get.

“We want to get into that top 100 and to be reg­u­larly com­pet­ing for tro­phies.”

Bricks and mor­tar will give man­ager Derek McInnes the tools to im­prove his squad and while no-one would dis­pute Cor­mack Park and a new sta­dium will en­hance the aes­thetic of the club or the match­day ex­pe­ri­ence for the sup­port­ers, Cor­mack knows the club is go­ing to have to build part­ner­ships world­wide to take the club to the next level.

One such link has been

ten­ta­tively formed with US Ma­jor League Soc­cer side At­lanta United.

Aberdeen have learned much from trips to At­lanta, where Cor­mack and his fam­ily are based when not in the Gran­ite City, with fact-find­ing mis­sions prov­ing much sought-af­ter in­sight and feed­back, not to men­tion inspiratio­n.

But there has been a tan­gi­ble ben­e­fit too with Jon Gal­lagher’s loan move to Pit­to­drie giv­ing Dons boss McInnes an ad­di­tional op­tion on the pitch.

Cor­mack be­lieves such an ar­range­ment is ben­e­fi­cial for both clubs and is keen on de­vel­op­ing the grow­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween Aberdeen and At­lanta, not to men­tion build­ing links with other clubs glob­ally.

He said: “We are dif­fer­ent con­ti­nents and leagues,

although we have started a bit of co­op­er­a­tion with them through Jon Gal­lagher.

“Jon was a player that Celtic were af­ter when he was com­ing out of Notre Dame, but Jon wanted to go to the MLS, although Bobby Clark wanted him to come to Aberdeen.

“At­lanta took him. They have just sold Miguel Alm­iron to New­cas­tle and they have bought Josef Martinez, who plays with Lionel Messi for Ar­gentina now and again, for £10 mil­lion.

“Jon can’t get into the first team be­cause of their South Amer­i­cans while the sec­ond team in At­lanta, where Stephen Glass is the coach, play in the com­pet­i­tive US League, where Jon did re­ally well.

“It was an op­por­tu­nity for us to go and see their fa­cil­i­ties.

Derek came out this time last year along with Rob Wicks our fi­nan­cial di­rec­tor.

“With phase two we want to be able to get it right. Fans’ ex­pe­ri­ence over there is amaz­ing.

“Not ev­ery­thing trans­lates but some things will. On the foot­ball side, we have Jon un­til the end of the year and hope­fully to the end of the sea­son.

“What you will see over the years is more col­lab­o­ra­tion around the world with the economies of scale.

“Teams in Amer­ica or South Amer­ica have great scout­ing con­tacts in those ar­eas and we have great scout­ing ca­pa­bil­ity and data on the whole of Europe.

“So those are ar­eas where it could make sense for both sides.”

Am­bi­tions: Dave Cor­mack says the Dons must build links with other clubs on a global level

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