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Joe Harper: Aberdeen have been let down by city council chiefs

The Dons' proposed new stadium at the beach is in jeopardy.
The Dons' proposed new stadium at the beach is in jeopardy.

Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack and his board must feel as if they’ve been led on a merry dance by Aberdeen City Council after officials moved the goalposts on plans for the new stadium at the beach this week.

I know the make-up of the council has changed, but what does it say about the city’s administration when they approach the club asking them to hold off on building a new stadium at Kingsford for what now seems to be a pie-in-the-sky idea of a beach regeneration initiative?

I understand the council’s position – it’s a tough time economically for us all and funding for other projects is important, too.

But your word has to count for something.

Dons acted in good faith

There were no promises made when the council approached the Dons, but the impression given was the local authority would be helping to fund a beachfront replacement for Pittodrie, and, for me, the whole thing leaves a sour taste.

I would imagine Dave and his fellow directors are livid about the whole affair. They’ve every right to feel they’ve been dealt a bad hand here.

Everything is now pointing towards a return to Plan A at Kingsford

They have acted in good faith and must feel money invested in another project has been for nothing.

Since the council asked the club to get involved the Dons have done their homework and invested in economic studies about what an £80 milllion stadium could bring to the beach area and the city as a whole.

I don’t think for a second anyone at the club expected they would have to foot the entire bill themselves, though.

Shame if hard work from Dave Cormack has been for nothing

The public have come out in support of a stadium at the beach and the club was warming to the idea, too, even with the knowledge the cost would be considerably higher at the beach than at Kingsford.

But pay for it all themselves? Why would they when they can do it for less at their original site at Kingsford?

Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack presented the findings of a new economic study the club had commissioned to make the case for a new beach stadium last month. Image: Wullie Marr / DC Thomson.

The situation will become clearer in the next few weeks, but for Dons fans wondering where do we go from here, the answer to that one is simple.

Everything is now pointing towards a return to Plan A at Kingsford next to the club’s training ground, Cormack Park.

Maybe the Scottish Government or private investors can step in and support the club in pushing ahead with a beach development, but if it has to be Kingsford, then I’m okay with that.

When Kingsford was first suggested I was all for it and, now the bypass is up and running, the infrastructure is there to support a stadium.

Aberdeen FC still has planning permission for its Kingsford Stadium... and could go through with the move out of the city if the council does not back the beach ground plans. Image: Aberdeen FC.
Aberdeen FC still have planning permission for their Kingsford Stadium. Image: Aberdeen FC.

I’m sure fans could be transported to and from a stadium there quite easily, but I would expect businesses in and around the city centre will be disappointed to see all that footfall heading out to the outskirts of the city between Kingswells and Westhill.

There is a sentimental feel of the Dons still being down at the beach, but if it does not happen then the club can move away in good conscience knowing they did all they could to try to maintain their presence near their spiritual home.

At least two Dons defensive reinforcements winter priority

With the Scottish Premiership now on hiatus until after the World Cup, it does not take three guesses to know which areas Aberdeen need to improve on: their defence and their away record.

The Dons dug deep to beat Dundee United on Saturday and have gone into the break clear in third place.

But it only takes a couple of defeats when the play resumes in December to drop down the table.

Saturday’s 1-0 win brought a rare clean sheet for the Dons, but it does not take a genius to know they need to be better at the back.

Defensive reinforcements are top of the agenda for me when the transfer window opens on January 1 and I would be hoping we’ll see at least two new faces to help bolster the defence.

Aberdeen have to improve their defensive record and their away form if they want to maintain the third place position they are in just now.

It has been great watching the team score three, four or five at home, but it’s equally painful seeing the team ship goals away from home.

Can De Bruyne inspire Belgium to World Cup glory?

With the World Cup set to begin on Sunday, I find this year’s tournament a really tough one to call.

We’re into new territory in Qatar, but of the European nations in the finals it has historically been Germany and France who have adapted best to the heat.

Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne makes it 4-0 during a UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier between Scotland and Belgium in 2019.

But I think any team with Kevin De Bruyne in it is capable of doing well. I’m not sure who is going to win this year, but if he is on form then Belgium have a good chance of at least making the final four.

With the Dons on a break, I’m making a trip to Cove this weekend to watch them take on my old club Morton.

I started my career with Morton and it’s always nice to see my old club when I can – they gave me my break in football and I’ll always be grateful to them for that.