Aberdeen vice-chairman George Yule has vowed the best and brightest of the region’s young football talent will not slip through the club’s net after announcing a new sponsorship with international energy company Statoil.
Wigan Athletic’s Shaun Maloney, Dundee United’s Stuart Armstrong and Sporting Lisbon’s Ryan Gauld are among those with links to the Granite City who have escaped the Dons’ grasp in the past, but Yule believes fresh funding will reduce the chances of it happening in the future.
The Norwegian company, which employs 120 people in Aberdeen and is building its new UK North Sea headquarters at Kingwells, will invest a six-figure sum to support the Dons’ youth development programme for the next seven years.
Yule said: “The importance of the club’s need to produce its own talent can never be over emphasised.
“We will invest in improving the standard of our coaches and players and we want to make this club the benchmark for youth development in Europe.
“We run seven teams from under-10 to under-17 which play on a weekly basis and it takes commitment, resources and a lot of effort to manage.
“In the past there have been gems of players from Aberdeen and the surrounding area who have passed through the net, but I’m hoping this announcement is the start of us tightening that net to ensure more are caught. It started 18 months ago for the club, when we moved from having three part-time youth scouts covering Tayside to Moray. We now have 12 youth scouts on the payroll with a further 12 network scouts behind each one covering the same area. Statoil’s support will allow us to push on and develop and improve those links.”
Gunnar Breivik, managing director of Statoil production in the UK, is a former Rosenborg player and the chance to invest in Aberdeen is one which appealed to his firm.
He said: “We took our staff to the League Cup final in March and saw the affinity the club has with the people and area. Aberdeen’s ethos is similar to our own and we share the importance of developing and inspiring the next generation of home-grown talent.”