New Dons chairman Dave Cormack today said he hopes the new US investment would allow the Pittodrie club to attain UEFA top 100 status.
The “strategic partnership” will see Atlanta United’s parent company AMB Sports & Entertainment (AMBSE) have minority ownership in Aberdeen FC – with a less than 10% stake.
AMBSE is putting in £2 million as part of a new package of investment totalling £5m.
Mr Cormack said the partnership would allow AFC, currently ranked 170th in Europe, to punch above its weight and bring the club’s finances closer to Celtic and Rangers.
He said: “As an Aberdonian and lifelong Dons fan, I’m honoured and privileged to become chairman of the famous Aberdeen. I’m also pleased to be able to announce a strategic partnership with Atlanta United.
“There are some real challenges ahead but with the support of my fellow directors and new investors, along with our fans, we will do our utmost to deliver success which at the end of the day is measured by the team’s performance.
“The new investment and this partnership with Atlanta will allow us to punch above our weight, aspiring to attain UEFA’s top 100 status, and trying to level the playing field against significantly higher incomes generated by Celtic and Rangers.”
As part of the partnership agreement, Atlanta United’s president Darren Eales will join AFC’s board of directors. However, AMBSE will have no operational involvement or day-to-day oversight responsibilities.
Mr Eales said: “We’re thrilled about this opportunity to partner with Aberdeen, a successful club with a long and proud history. The partnership is a natural fit, with synergies both on and off the pitch. We share the same commitment to our fans, to our core values, community engagement and competitive results.
“We’re excited about what we can achieve together through a shared approach to soccer and commercial operations centred around mutual respect for AFC’s heritage and Atlanta United’s innovation and progressive strategy.
“While our focus will remain on Atlanta United day-to-day, we look forward to sharing our learnings with Aberdeen as they begin the process of planning and building a new venue and developing an exceptional fan experience as we have here at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.”
Mr Cormack, himself an Atlanta United season-ticket holder, said: “Atlanta United has record-breaking MLS attendances and season-ticket sales, as well as the most successful fan engagement programme in Major League Soccer.
“We will be looking to learn from their experience, taking what works in Scotland and applying it to improve our relationship with fans, create better matchday experiences and develop potential sponsorships and other commercial initiatives that will generate revenues.”
Mr Cormack also highlighted the accomplishments of outgoing chairman Stewart Milne.
He said: “During more than 20 years in the driving seat he has had to deal with some turbulent times, both at the club and within Scottish football.
“Thanks to his astute commercial acumen, his financial contributions and an unwavering loyalty, both as a chairman and a fan, he has successfully led the club through those times, having to make difficult decisions along the way.
“Not all of these have been popular among fans, but they have helped to get the club into a good position on and off the pitch.
“I am very pleased that he has agreed to stay on the board in a non-executive capacity to ensure a smooth transition.”
Keep up to date with the latest news with The Evening Express newsletter
Aberdeen have fostered close links with Atlanta United in recent years.
Mr Cormack is based in the city and the Dons have visited Atlanta’s stadium and training complex as part of the research for the new ground at Kingsford.
Summer loan signing Jon Gallagher came from Atlanta United.
Speaking in July about the loan, Dons boss Derek McInnes said: “Certainly there is a lot of goodwill between the clubs. This loan indicates how amicable and how healthy those relationships are.
“We can learn a lot from other clubs. We have the experience that clubs can also learn from us, so it is a two-way thing. We are delighted to have fostered that relationship with the loan of Gallagher.”