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
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