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Paul Third: Something to smile about at last for Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack

Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack
Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack

Dave Cormack has had little to smile about in 2021 but few would surely begrudge the Aberdeen chairman the chance to have a wry grin to himself as 2022 fast approaches.

When Cormack agreed to take over from Stewart Milne as chairman at Pittodrie in 2019 no amount of business forecasting could have predicted the challenges which have come.

The global Covid pandemic has brought challenges the likes of which no businesses have experienced before – and football has not been immune.

The role of Dons chairman is a thankless task at the best of times but during a pandemic it has been the ultimate plate spinning exercise for the US-based Aberdonian.

From balancing the books, overseeing the job of putting a team on the pitch and the social responsibility which comes with the AFC Community Trust’s social outreach programme, it is fair to say it has been a 24/7 vocation for Cormack.

His love of the Dons, his hometown team, has been tested to the limit as he prepares to face shareholders – virtually – at the club’s annual meeting tonight.

Clearly, there will be much to discuss when analysing not just the last campaign but the season so far for Aberdeen.

The sight of hospitality lounges lying empty and games being played behind closed doors resulted in turnover dropping by £3.26 million in the period ended June 30 2021.

It was only through the sale of Scott McKenna, business interruption insurance, season ticket sales, staff pay cuts, a loan from the Scottish Government and a cash injection from investors that the Dons managed to avoid making redundancies.

December has brought a much-needed run of consistency

On the pitch, the Derek McInnes era, which was nearing its end, was brought to a close three months earlier than anticipated with the former Dons boss departing the club with Stephen Glass arriving from Atlanta to take on his first major first-team role.

Cormack would argue it was one which was needed, but the changing of the guard incurred additional financial cost, arguably at the worst possible time.

A changing of the personnel overseeing the team has also resulted in a significant investment on the pitch with former Celtic captain Scott Brown swapping the green and white hoops in Glasgow for the red of Aberdeen as player-coach.

The results until December have been, well, patchy at best.

Within weeks Cormack went from heralding the bold new era of attacking football to taking to national radio to issue a passionate defence of his new manager.

Some Dons fans, and some of the media, have yet to be convinced the regime change will lead Aberdeen into a new era of being not just trophy contenders and serial European qualifier participants, but cup winners and a club which competes in the group stages of Europe on a regular basis.

Dons playing catch-up in European race

Right now, the immediate task facing Aberdeen is getting back into the pack pushing for a European spot and making amends for a hugely disappointing League Cup exit by doing well in the Scottish Cup when they enter the competition against Edinburgh City in January.

Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass (l) and chairman Dave Cormack

Questions about Glass’ appointment may still rear their head tonight along with what support the manager will be given to achieve those aims.

But with Saturday’s 1-0 win at St Johnstone helping the Dons record three league wins in a row for the first time this season, Cormack will be pleased at the sign of progress as he prepares to field those questions.

The sight of the Dons moving ever closer to the teams above them in the Premiership will also bring a smile to the chairman’s face for sure.

Given everything which has happened he can be afforded that at least.

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