Evening Express

Aberdeen v Burnley in the Europa League: Chairman Milne calling on Dons to make their mark for city and country

Stewart Milne

Pittodrie chairman Stewart Milne insists the Europa League clash with Burnley is a chance to show the strength of both Aberdeen and Scottish football.

The Dons face the English Premier League Clarets in a second qualifying round first leg Battle of Britain at Pittodrie tomorrow.

Milne accepts Scottish football will be under the microscope with the return leg next Thursday at Turf Moor set to be broadcast live by BT Sport.

Burnley, who today arrived in the Granite City, finished seventh in the English top flight and are rated as favourites by bookmakers to progress to a third qualifying round clash with Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir.

However, with the focus of British football on the tie, Milne claimed the Reds have the belief they can upset the odds.

He said: “This is an opportunity to profile Aberdeen as a football club, and the Scottish game.

“Nobody is underestimating the scale of the challenge that Burnley will pose.

“However, equally it is a game where the belief will be there that we can go out and win it and get through into the next round.”

The Euro double header heralds a high-profile and high- stakes beginning to Aberdeen’s campaign.

Just days after the return at Turf Moor the Reds kick-off their domestic season with a Premiership clash against Rangers at Pittodrie on Sunday August 5.

Milne said: “There is a lot at stake in those three initial games, particularly the European ones.

“Derek (McInnes) feels it will be a big challenge but it is certainly not beyond us.

“Hopefully we can get the right result.”

Aberdeen have exited the Europa League at the third qualifying stage in the last four seasons.

The Reds will have to despatch Burnley to match that this year and take a step closer to the target of the group stages – which brings a minimum £3 million payment.

In the long term the Reds have ambitions to break into the UEFA top 100 club list. Delivering the £50 million stadium and training facilities at Kingsford are a key component to that.

Aberdeen broke ground on the £10m training ground earlier this month.

Milne said: “It (training ground) is a big part of the jigsaw although there are a lot of things we can do to make sure we become a top 100 club.

“Fundamental to the whole thing is having the right facilities and keeping that momentum going on the football front.

“We have got to grow in strength in the club itself and be able to generate a lot more money as the club moves forward.

“Having a facility like that just underpins the whole club.

“It would be very difficult for us to be part of whatever the European future is going to be without having top class facilities like that.”

Dons boss McInnes has secured six new signings this summer in preparation for the Euro tilt – Stephen Gleeson, Chris Forrester, Lewis Ferguson and Tomas Cerny on permanents and Dominic Ball on loan from Rotherham and Tommie Hoban on loan from Watford.

He aims to have more new additions on board for the Rangers clash with his main priority being a striker.

McInnes also wanted to further strengthen his squad for the clash with Burnley.

He had a bid for Doncaster striker John Marquis, understood to be £250,000, rejected.

It is understood that move is not completely dead in the water and could yet be revisited.

Aberdeen also reportedly had a bid of £300,000 for Preston striker Eoin Doyle fall through because the 30-year-old could not agree personal terms.

The Reds could yet launch a loan bid for Preston striker Louis Moult, who they attempted to sign from Motherwell last summer.

The Dons lost out to League One Sunderland in the race to land Scotland international midfielder Dylan McGeouch.

McInnes was also keen on securing Ross County full-back Jason Naismith but he opted to join Peterbrough United, also of League One.

But McInnes insists despite the hurdles he has to overcome in the transfer market, his squad will be competitive against the Clarets.

McInnes said: “We’ve lost out on several players to League One already this season and I don’t think that should be the case.

“A lot of the reasons are financial for players and unfortunately there are clubs who surpass what we can do.

“But that’s always been the case, and we’ve always managed to put a competitive squad together.”