Aberdeen FC manager Derek McInnes has branded the club’s facilities “embarrassing” as he urged city council planners to get behind the plans for a new £50million stadium.
Both sides in the battle over the Dons’ controversial plan to move out of Pittodrie to a purpose-built facility on the edge of the city will make their case tomorrow at a townhouse hearing.
“I think it’s pivotal for us, I really do,” Mr McInnes told the Press and Journal in Dubai, where the team is enjoying warm-weather training.
“To be a bigger animal we need to be bringing in more on a match day financially, more revenue in, and a modern facility for our supporters to maybe increase attendances.
“Right now it is difficult to sustain the expectation based on what we are dealing with.”
The new stadium would include a training ground, something the manager said was “vitally important to us to be perceived as a modern, serious competitor in the 21st century.”
A final decision is due to be taken by the council on January 29.
Fears were raised last week the Dons would have to play European games in Dundee if the new stadium was not approved, as they currently operate under special dispensation from Uefa to host games at Pittodrie. Issues with dressing rooms, disabled access and pitch run-off would count against the club in the eyes of European football’s governing body.
Objectors have cited an increase in traffic in the Westhill and Kingswells areas on match days as well as the loss of greenbelt land. Aberdeenshire Council has also cited its objections on the basis of it going against local policy, an overestimation of the project’s benefit to the regional economy and inadequate match-day transport.
Mr McInnes said: “We can go any given season to five or six different places (for training). None of them are next to Pittodrie so you have to report there first. We don’t have that luxury and the players are used to it, even if they shouldn’t be. We made light of it when we first came in but it’s time to stop making light of it.”
Mr McInnes added: “We’re all trying to maximise what we are and I would like the opportunity to train at modern facilities at Aberdeen and lead my team out at a new stadium. Ideally that will happen.”
The No Kingsford Stadium protest group last night insisted that the club’s application remained vulnerable to legal challenge.
The group said: “The legal matters relating to this application are complex, and we have been advised that elements of it are susceptible to challenge should the council approve it.”