Aberdeen directors are making plans for life after Derek McInnes following Sunderland’s approach for their manager yesterday.
The English Championship Black Cats finally made their move for the Dons manager yesterday following more than two weeks of intense speculation about their interest in McInnes, 45.
Publicly, the Dons insisted it is business as usual at Pittodrie, but directors, including new board member Dave Cormack, met at the stadium yesterday to discuss their options to replace McInnes.
Chairman Stewart Milne stressed yesterday’s board meeting was not in response to Sunderland’s approach.
He said: “It was just a normal quarterly board meeting.
“There has no compensation agreement been made with Sunderland. That is all I can say.”
While the board would not comment further a source insists directors have made arrangements to move quickly for a replacement should McInnes move on.
Aberdeen are demanding a seven-figure compensation fee from the Black Cats before they will allow McInnes to discuss a move to England but Sunderland chief executive Martin Bain, formerly of Rangers, is confident of reaching an agreement for McInnes and his Pittodrie assistant Tony Docherty.
The Dons manager returns from holiday today and has expressed an interest in hearing what Sunderland have to say, prompting the Dons to look at potential suitors.
McInnes is keen to test himself in England again following a disappointing spell in his previous managerial role at Bristol.
He was sacked in 2013 but has rebuilt his reputation with the Dons by leading the club to its first silverware in 19 years in 2014 courtesy of penalty shoot-out win against Caley Thistle in the League Cup final.
The Reds have also finished second to Celtic in the league for the past three seasons and ended the last campaign as runners-up in all three domestic competitions to the treble-winning Hoops.
McInnes’ consistency has extended to European football, too, with the Dons about to embark on their fourth Europa League qualifying campaign in a row next month.
Aberdeen want to keep their manager but know they face an uphill task in retaining his services.
With the players due to return for pre-season training on Monday, June 26, ahead of the first qualifying match on July 13, time is of the essence at Pittodrie as the Dons need to reinforce their squad quickly.
Ryan Jack, Niall McGinn, Ash Taylor and Peter Pawlett lead the list of players leaving the club, while Celtic have increased their offer for Jonny Hayes to £1.3million plus a one-year loan of Ryan Christie.
Ross County manager Jim McIntyre, who was a member of McInnes’ backroom staff at Bristol City, is being considered along with St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright, who has impressed with his consistent results on a meagre budget at McDiarmid Park.