Derek McInnes insists “we’ll get money back” if rarely seen Ronald Hernandez is sold in January: What we learned from Aberdeen AGM

Aberdeen have held their latest agm as chairman Dave Cormack prepares to celebrate the first anniversary of taking over the club from Stewart Milne, who was re-elected to the Pittodrie club’s board in the formal part of a meeting conducted on Zoom for the first time.

Ronald Hernandez in action for Aberdeen against Hibs at Pittodrie in March (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

Hernandez: ‘we’ll get our money back’

McInnes was asked specifically about Ronny Hernandez, the Venezuelan right-back signed in January for a reputed £800,000 from Stabaek and who has made only four appearances since. The Aberdeen manager was sympathetic about the player’s plight, blaming a change of playing system. He stressed the Covid-19 restrictions have made it challenging for the player to settle in. Hernandez, 23, has not seen his family, including his wife and baby daughter, for nearly a year.

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McInnes: “We’re disappointed it hasn’t always worked out. There were other interested parties at the time, and there still are. And we’re confident that any investment by the club on this deal will be recouped.

“In January, there may be an opportunity to do that. I think we have to be fair to the boy, and if there is an opportunity, and we think there will be, to recoup the money invested then that money will come back. There’s not a club out there or a manager out there who gets every part of their recruitment right, but we were confident enough to do this deal.”

Plan is to get into top 100 European clubs

Cormack said: “On the field, during Derek McInnes’ tenure, we’ve gone from being ranked 289th to 146th in Europe today. Why? Because we’ve qualified for Europe every season under Derek. Our aspiration is to get into the top 100 and to do that we need to qualify for the Group Stages of any of UEFA’s three competitions, including the new Europa Conference League which starts next season. Something much harder to do than when we last achieved it. But it’s absolutely an aspiration to get there.”

New stadium on “back burner” but it will cost £250,000 to upgrade Pittodrie floodlights if Aberdeen qualify for group stage of Europa League or new Conference League tournament

Commercial director Rob Wicks took a question from a shareholder about the long-planned new stadium and revealed that the project has been “significantly impacted by Covid-19” and is on “the back burner for now”. He also underlined the cost involved in bringing Pittodrie up to the required standard if Aberdeen qualify for the group stage of the Europa League.

“If we were to qualify for the Europa League or the Conference group stages, we would not only have to seek special dispensation for Pittodrie itself, we would have to upgrade in a number of areas. We would probably have to spend in excess of £250,000 just on the floodlights to bring them up to group stage specification.”

Atlantic League proposal with clubs from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Republic of Ireland “dead in the water” but need to continue looking at cross-border leagues

Cormack: “We literally had sight of it only recently. These projects need to be explored. As far as we know, the project is already dead in the water. But let me assure you, we would never make any critical decision like this without fully consulting with our fans. My point is we should be discussing these projects if they come up and if they bring significant financial upsides and an appealing or attractive set of games.”

Why is team not performing as consistently as expected given greater budget compared to other teams in league?

McInnes: “No club is perfect at recruitment and utilising their budget. I do think that over the last seven years or so we have consistently punched our weight against clubs of a similar budget i.e. Hibs and Hearts.

The last two seasons, two fourth place finishes were really disappointing – no one is more disappointed than me. We lost out on goal difference to Kilmarnock and last season when the season was curtailed we ended up with a fourth place finish behind Motherwell. No one will convince me that we would not have finished third last season.

Hard hybrid turf at Cormack Park as well as “training too much” could be reasons for high number of injuries that happen outwith matches

McInnes: “We have been using Cormack Park now for a period, and we are still picking up injuries. It’s a real concern. We have looked at in depth. One reason potentially is that we have invested in a brilliant hybrid pitch that endures a lot of training time but it is a firm pitch and totally different to Pittodrie, which is sand-based and very much softer. Looking at the last four seasons, we have increased training time since moving to Cormack Park. We are maybe in danger of training too much. We have to get the balance right.

What is plan to challenge Rangers and Celtic?

Cormack: “I like facts and data, and so I try to draw a parallel between early 80s with Sir Alex Ferguson and Derek’s tenure here. Ferguson won 58 per cent of league games, Derek is on 55 per cent. The difference is this: in the early 80s Rangers and Celtic were not paying six times the wages as they are today.

"That is an arms race that is impossible to chase. We would go bust.” The chairman made the point that recent community initiatives have been implemented with long-term aim to “drive up season ticket sales”, which currently stand at around the 8000 mark.

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