Aberdeen FC bosses have insisted they are still intent on building the new Kingsford stadium after a high-ranking councillor suggested a dramatic U-turn could be on the cards.
The council’s capital programme convener Marie Boulton added to speculation the club could stay put at Pittodrie during crunch talks on the future of the city this week.
The troubled £50 million replacement 20,000-seater ground at Kingsford has been badly affected by the pandemic.
But Aberdeen FC last night made clear Kingsford is still the option officials are pursuing.
Mrs Boulton let slip that talks were under way with the football club on what is to become of the ageing Pittodrie after The P&J had inquired about the potential for an early rethink of the city centre masterplan (CCMP).
In response, Mrs Boulton confirmed a revision was on the cards, with an eye on expanding work out to the seafront.
She said: “There requires further discussions with stakeholders, one of which is Aberdeen Football Club who may now have a desire to remain within their spiritual home down at the beach.
“The administration intends to take forward plans for a refresh of the CCMP shortly.”
Her words prompted speculation among the Dons faithful, as many have not given up hope the club might remain at its home of 118 years.
Pittodrie is earmarked for housing should the Kingsford move go ahead.
But while a spokeswoman confirmed “initial conversations” between the council and the club had taken place, she said these were about increasing sport and leisure facilities in the beach area.
She added: “It’s far too early to make any comment on whether or not this would be progressed by either the club or the council.
“We remain committed to a new stadium, sports and community facilities at Kingsford, albeit our plans to progress to the next stage have stalled due to the financial challenges we are facing as a result of the pandemic.”
The wide-ranging terminology leaves scope for all sorts of possibilities, from community facilities like those at the Kingsford training ground to the potential for a new stadium at the beachfront.
But any U-turn would leave Aberdeen FC counting the cost of writing-off investment in Kingsford, as well as abandoning the benefits of a single training ground and stadium site.
Redeveloping Pittodrie could also leave the club without a home ground during the construction and would deprive the club of income from potential housing development.
SNP councillor Dell Henrickson hit out at “vague comments” from Mrs Boulton, which he said helped no-one.
He added: “As someone who lives in the Pittodrie area and a Dons season ticket holder, these comments have caused confusion amongst fans and we really need her to explain exactly what she meant by her comments in The P&J.”