Aberdeen’s hopes of moving to a new stadium have been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but chairman Dave Cormack remains committed to delivering a new home for the club.
Covid-19 has hit Scottish football hard and the Dons are not immune to the financial impact, with Cormack insisting the first three months alone added £1 million to the club’s operating loss of £2.92m for the period ended June 30, 2020.
The Dons chairman is also projecting a £5m loss in 12 months’ time with the losses incurred diverting planned funding from the board and investors into keeping the club solvent instead of being diverted towards the planned new facility next to the training ground, Cormack Park.
Cormack said: “We’ve got a stadium to build. Probably £8m has been lost that could have gone to the stadium. Thank heavens that I got another million from my friends.
“In the last couple of weeks, we got the bulk of the Scott McKenna money. Nobody gives you all the money up front and that’s the same with us when we buy players.
“We’re in a decent place, but the biggest concern is that with no plan, who is going to buy season tickets in Scotland?
“How many fans will buy season tickets in Scotland across the board? Who knows? How can you budget for 2,000, 3,000, 4,000?”
The Dons chairman has painted a bleak picture for the game in 2021 unless a solution can be found which will enable fans to return to matches.
While rightly proud of the work done by the AFC Community Trust in the local community and the youth academy which operates from Cormack Park, the chairman is in no doubt both would be adversely affected if the Dons have to reduce overheads due to the pandemic.
Cormack said: “I have heard people say ‘what’s the point of getting fans back because you already have their season ticket money?’
“It’s not about that, it’s about next season. Last season it was maybe a donation from supporters, but next season the money starts coming in from February and March.
“We said to our fans that we would offer full value in one shape or form, so we need to get together with our fans groups and see what is acceptable.
“But, clearly, if we had significant refunds that would have an effect. We are still committed to giving full value for the season tickets.
“Last season we offered full refunds for the four games supporters didn’t get and I think it was about eight percent who asked for the money back, the rest said keep the money in the club.
“But it’s not just the fact it was a donation last summer, people are losing their jobs. In the last month I have had six family members in Aberdeen made redundant.
“So it’s going to be a challenge, the whole of society is being affected by this.
“It’s our jobs as the people running the clubs in Scottish football to put it out there.
“It’s not a case of sitting and saying ‘poor me, poor me’, it’s about people’s jobs.”
Cormack’s financial contribution since joining the Dons board in 2017 has been considerable, but he is not looking for a return. He may be in the United States, but the Aberdonian remains committed to making the club the heart of its local community.
He said: “Between me and my friends, we have put close to £20m into the club now and am I ever going to get a return on that beyond getting enjoyment from the club being successful?
“No, it’s a social investment for me.
“As a family club, at the heart of our community, we positively touch the lives of so many people of all ages and backgrounds, through programmes around education, health and well-being.
“It would be devastating if we had to pull out of these activities to reduce our outgoings. The Trust’s income has been drastically hit by not being able to fund raise at home games or make use of the community facilities at Cormack Park.”