Aberdeen chief: Celtic success in Europe great for Scottish football

Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne. Picture: SNS
Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne. Picture: SNS
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Prior to heading to Kazakhstan to go through the motions of qualifying for the group phase of the Champions League, Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers stated that every Premiership club chairman ought to support them in their European quest.

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Considering that Celtic will benefit to the tune of £30m by easing their way into European football’s most lucrative competition, that may seem to some a forlorn wish.

However, Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne, whose club have been the Parkhead side’s closest rivals for the last three years, claims that he is fully supportive of their efforts to raise the profile of the Scottish game and he hopes that they can go deeper into the tournament.

That, of course, would see more Uefa money pour into the Celticcoffers, making it even more difficult for their domestic rivals to peg them back, but Milne remains upbeat about the prospect.

“I feel excited about this season – I think Scottish football is in the best place it’s been for a long while,” he said.

“I think we’re going to see a very competitive league.

“Yes, it’s going to be very difficult to rein in Celtic, especially with it now looking fairly certain that they are going to qualify for the Champions League for a second season.

“That is going to give them a bit more buying power before the window closes but I think it’s great news for Scottish football and we all really want to see Celtic doing well.

“It would be fantastic if they get a decent draw and could get beyond the group stages. Brendan has done a fantastic job since he came in.

“He has turned the club around and built an extremely powerful team there, which we were on the wrong end of last season.

“But we want to be able to give Celtic a good challenge. We have Hibs back and, hopefully, we’ll also see a strong Hearts and Rangers coming through. St Johnstone will be there and a few others so I think it’s going to be a really good season.”

Aberdeen, along with Celtic and St Johnstone, have won their opening three league fixtures and, with recent signing Stevie May scoring both goals in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Dundee, he believes that their transfer business has now been concluded.

“Derek is finished now – or at least I hope he is!” he said. “I believe we have ended up with a very good squad.

“We’re every bit as strong as we were last year and maybe a bit stronger once they all gel together.

“I think the players we have brought in are going to contribute a great deal this season. And we won’t welcome bids for Kenny McLean or anyone else.”

The one cloud on Milne’s horizon is that the local council could once again refuse the club permission to build a new, Uefa-compliant stadium at Kingsford. The decision will be made in October.

“If we get consent we could be in place before the end of this year to start on the training and community facility and then, once we get that delivered, the aim would be to have the stadium ready for season 20-21,” he said.

“Without it, there would be a drain in finances. We’ve made a lot of progress in the last four years under Derek McInnes.

“If we get this, it allows us to build on that momentum and accelerate it; if we don’t, it stalls.

“There’s then only one way the club can go and that’s backwards.”

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