Evening Express

WATCH: Aberdeen leave for Burnley as McInnes says Dons can match Clarets on pitch but are league apart in TV cash

Derek McInnes at Dons training this morning

Boss Derek McInnes reckons the Europa League first leg draw proved there is little separating the Dons from Burnley on the pitch – but accepts there is a chasm off it.

For McInnes that will never change until SPFL chiefs secure a lucrative broadcasting deal that can pour more finance into the Scottish game.

Aberdeen left for the second leg of their Europa League second qualifying round tie with the Clarets today. They secured a 1-1 draw at Pittodrie last week, and headed to Aberdeen Airport after training at the stadium this morning.

They will meet Burnley at Turf Moor tomorrow night.

The current television deal with Sky Sports and BT Sport to screen 60 live Scottish Premiership games between them is for £18.95 million. It expires at the end of the 2019-2020 season.

Scotland’s £18.95m is a pittance compared to the £5.14 billion the same two broadcasters are ploughing into the English Premier League over a three-year deal.

There are similarities between the Dons and Burnley – two provincial clubs with stadiums of around 20,000 capacity and operating against bigger spending clubs.

Yet the knock-on effect of that disparity in television deals saw Aberdeen receive £2.3m for finishing runners-up in the Premiership and Burnley £120m for seventh in England.

In the 1-1 Europa League draw at Pittodrie the Dons attack was led by Sam Cosgrove, a £20,000 signing, while Burnley fielded £15m striker Chris Wood.

But McInnes remains confident the Reds can bridge that gap over 90 minutes tomorrow to progress to the third qualifying round. He said: “When you talk about differences, there is not a big difference between the two clubs.

“However, the huge gap between what we can do and what Burnley can do comes just because of the league they are operating in.

“Burnley can grow and be the animal they are now because of the league they are in.

“They have done brilliant to get there and the financial chasm is huge.

“You see that when there is a £15m striker (Chris Wood).

“Until television companies and finance change we can probably only do so much at times. However, in Aberdeen we have a proud tradition, are a proper club and will continue to be as competitive as we can be.

“Burnley is a game we can win.”

Scotland’s broadcast deal lags way behind nations such as Greece (£50m per season), Denmark (£46m) and Norway (£35m).

The gulf between finances in England and Scotland, perhaps Celtic apart, was in the spotlight when Aberdeen sold top scorer Adam Rooney to Salford City, in the fifth tier south of the border, for a six-figure sum.

However, Scottish football received a welcome boost last week with all four teams in European action registering decent results.

Aberdeen drew with top-flight Burnley while Celtic, Rangers and Hibs all won their Euro ties.

If the Dons could win the Battle of Britain with Burnley to set up a third round showdown with Istanbul Basaksehir it would surely silence some critics of the Scottish game.

McInnes doesn’t care.

All that concerns him is Aberdeen progressing to set up a trip to Istanbul.

On possibly changing perceptions of the game in Scotland, he said: “I really couldn’t care less what people think who don’t watch Scottish football.

“It probably still won’t change a lot of people’s opinions, to be honest.

“But I know where we sit.

“I know we are a good team.

“I know our capabilities that we are good enough individually and can be organised as a team, that we can be really competitive.”

Aberdeen today arrived in Burnley and were set to look around the stadium.

They opted to train at Pittodrie this morning before flying down.

McInnes played in England with West Brom and managed Bristol City and believes the perception down there, with those who actually watch the Scottish Premiership, is not all negative.

He said: “I speak to enough players, managers and people within the game in England to know there is still a healthy regard from the majority of people in the game for our league.

“And rightly so.

“Players have moved from the Scottish Premiership to top clubs in England and will continue to do so.

“What other people’s perception of the Scottish league is I really couldn’t care – it is not important to me.

“Our focus is on getting a result at Turf Moor and I have the players to take the challenge on and try to win that game against Burnley.”