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Aberdeen FC AGM: Ronald Hernandez and new stadium remain top of the agenda for shareholders

Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack
Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack

The 118th annual general meeting of Aberdeen FC was a night for stadium updates, contract extensions and – predictably – more debate about Ronald Hernandez.

Clocking in at almost 68 minutes, the hybrid meeting in the Richard Donald Suite at Pittodrie was as routine as anyone on the Dons board could have hoped for.

Dons chairman Dave Cormack, who conducted the meeting from the United States due to Covid quarantine rules, formerly got proceedings underway at 7.10pm and he barely broke sweat.

With goalkeeper Tom Ritchie having signed a new deal earlier in the day, Dons director of football Steven Gunn was giving the honour of announcing Jack MacKenzie had signed a contract extension to keep him at the club until the summer of 2025.

Jack MacKenzie has signed a new deal

But it was the question and answer session which followed the meeting where shareholders were given their chance to probe and not surprisingly, the enigma that is Ronald Hernandez, was top of the agenda.

The South American remains in the United States after a season-long loan at Atlanta United and, while his future at Atlanta remains unclear, what is in no doubt is that he won’t be returning to Pittodrie.

As the shareholder put it – Ronald Hernandez, are we getting the money or what?

Ronald Hernandez is unlikely to return to Aberdeen

Cormack said: “The main point is Aberdeen FC signed Ronny. The manager wanted Ronny, we were in the market for a right-back.

“He was identified by ourselves and backed up by what the scouts had seen. We acquired him right before Covid. If we’d known Covid was going to happen, we wouldn’t have done the deal.

“We were left with an asset on a four-year contract, good wages, that we needed to get playing time to sell.

“We approached MLS, who own all the contracts, and Atlanta were the only team willing to take Ronnie.

“He spent a year at Aberdeen without his family. He got the opportunity to go on loan, he’s settled in the States and they’ve had a second child.

“His preference is to stay in the States.

“There’s no conspiracy theory. My family put in the money to buy Ronny, converted the cash into shares, so it didn’t cost the club anything.”

Stephen Glass’ desire to keep injury-ravaged defender Mikey Devlin was also evident, while the Dons boss also revealed Matty Kennedy is set to return to training on Tuesday after missing all of the season to this point with a back issue.

But it was where Aberdeen’s long-term future lies which continues to set the agenda, with several shareholders eager to know whether it will be Kingsford or by the beach where the Dons will build their new home.

Commercial director Rob Wicks said it would be season 2025-26 at the earliest before Aberdeen would leave Pittodrie, while Cormack has been focused on the capacity of the Dons’ new home.

Aberdeen could leave Pittodrie in 2025

The chairman said: “We’re working with experts in the field. Given the feedback we’ve had, it will probably be a 16,000-17,000 seater stadium. The cost of building that compared to a 20,000 stadium could be £10-15million more.

“If you have 9,000 season ticket holders and a couple of thousand walking up to games – typically 30% (season ticket holders) don’t (turn up) – we’d like to put in a process for fans who can’t be there to let someone else use their ticket.

“We’re looking to push ourselves – today as a season ticket holder you can watch the game virtually or come to the stadium. We’d like to think that is something which can stay as it’s clear there is a demand there from our fans.

“A stadium with a tight atmosphere and safe standing section is the way to go.”

It was all pleasant and smooth for the Dons after a challenging 18 months for the club, but it seems the shareholders are content with the stewardship of their club.

The ordinary resolutions to confirming receipt and consideration of the financial statements, re-election of Cormack and Tom Crotty as directors, and confirmation of Zoe Ogilvie’s appointment to the board as a director, were all carried without any questions from the floor.

Former chairman Stewart Milne praised his successor for guiding the club during the Covid pandemic.

Former Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne.

He said: “Everyone in the room appreciates how difficult the last couple of years have been.

“It has certainly been a very challenging period for the club and I think the club has been very fortunate to have Dave at the helm heading up a very able and committed team during this period.

“In spite of all the implications and challenges of Covid, I think we’ve made a great deal of progress on many fronts and have no doubt it will continue under Dave’s leadership.”

A special resolution to amend the articles of association to permit the company to hold virtual and/or hybrid meetings, including future annual meetings, was also passed without incident.