Aberdeen’s new chairman Dave Cormack admits the club might not be leaving Pittodrie after all as the planned move to a new stadium by 2023 could be delayed at best, or scrapped in the worst-case scenario.
The Atlanta-based Aberdonian businessman, who officially replaces Stewart Milne next month, raised the vast majority of the £12.5 million needed to fund the Dons’ newly-opened training ground, named Cormack Park in his honour.
Now the task is to find the £45m needed to construct an adjacent stadium at the Kingsford complex, a job made all the more difficult by the value of Pittodrie slumping to £11m as the economic downturn in the oil industry continues to have a negative impact on the Granite City.
Cormack’s contacts have brought in an additional £5m this week, including a new £2m partnership with MLS club Atlanta United that will see the American club’s president, and former Spurs director, Darren Eales join the Aberdeen board.
However, all that money has been ring fenced for the club’s day-to day-operations, which have increased by £750,000-a-year for the running of the training ground, and the US-based multi-millionaire insists he won’t sacrifice a successful team for new facilities.
That means meeting the original deadline of the summer of 2023 to have the new ground up and running is no longer a priority, something that would please those opposed to relocating to eight miles from the city centre.
When asked if that might mean staying at their historic ground permanently, Cormack said: “You can never say never. If we can’t raise the money then we can’t do it but we are confident our best opportunity is to move out to Kingsford.
“The 2023 date is moveable. I’m not fixated on two years here or six years here but I want to make sure we are investing in the football team as there is no way we are going to invest in a stadium and have a team which is ninth in the league.
“The critical factor for us is the performance of the first team. It’s a hard balancing act. Listen, £45m is a lot to raise and if you look at our recent report we’ve had Pittodrie valued recently and there is no point in us trying to sell.
“We wouldn’t maximise the value of Pittodrie in the current downturn. Nobody can commit to money that isn’t there today but a new stadium is our best option.
“Let’s say we got £15m for the sale of Pittodrie, well Hearts spent £18m from building their new stand. It would cost us £55m to redevelop the stands here so when you weigh that up against £45m for a custom-built stadium.
“You have reduced the actual cost to £30m due to the sale of Pittodrie then that’s a £25m difference at Kingsford.”
Cormack has also reassured Aberdeen supporters that they won’t try to raise funds for any future projects by rushing into the sale of top assets like Scott McKenna, Lewis Ferguson and Sam Cosgrove.
Aberdeen have already turned down big-money offers for Scotland international defender McKenna from clubs like Aston Villa, Celtic and Hull City in the past and Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes expects more bids for him and the other two when the transfer window opens in the new year.
Cormack added: “We have resisted offers for players. We did it in the summer and not just for Scott McKenna but at the right time when there are players coming through, of course we will look at accepting offers.
“Scott will move on at some stage for his career but we have always said it has to be right for the player and the club.”