Dons chairman Stewart Milne today hailed Aberdeen City Council’s backing of the Kingsford stadium plans as the “most important decision” in the club’s history.
Councillors voted 32 to nine in favour of the application to build the £50 million stadium and training facilities near Westhill at a special meeting yesterday.
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes also praised the decision, saying it was a “watershed” moment for the club.
Speaking to the Evening Express, Mr Milne said the council backing was “more important” than winning the 2014 Scottish League Cup final – the club’s first trophy in nearly 20 years – “in lots of respects”.
He added: “I think this is probably the most important decision that’s ever been made for the football club.
“It will take an awful lot to take away the level of enjoyment I got out of winning the League Cup, but this is a fantastic decision for AFC and I think gives us a real platform for moving forward.”
Mr Milne said the Dons’ former chairman, the late Richard Donald, would be “very happy” with the news.
He added: “He probably maybe more than most would be sad in lots of respects knowing the stadium has a limited life left, but I think he would be very happy in as much as he was a very progressive individual and he’d see this as an opportunity to set the club up for the next 50 years and beyond.”
When asked if he had any lingering doubts on the plans going ahead, Mr Milne said: “We’re confident that we can drive forward because once we get planning cleared with the Scottish Government, we have other consents to get, but we know we can get those if we get the threat of legal challenge dispensed in the coming months.
“We have absolute control of the site.
“We can acquire that once we get all the consents cleared. In terms of delivering phase one we already have about 60% of the funding either committed or in place.
“Having a consent for the development gives us a real meaningful platform to go forward and raise the balance of the funds for phase one.
“We’re very confident and we know it will be a real challenge, but we think it’s a realistic challenge that we can have the first phase in place by summer 2019.”
In terms of timescales, Mr Milne said he hopes to have Scottish Government approval granted by March and “all going well” workers will be on site by this summer.
Mr Milne added: “There’s probably nobody happier in Aberdeen than me to see the club finally getting into this position.”
Commenting on the vote overwhelmingly in favour of the application, Mr Milne said: “We’ve seen the council in recent years taking a totally different approach.
“There’s been a realisation of how vulnerable we are as an area over the last three years or so.
“And a recognition from the council that over the next five to 10 years, we have got to get the infrastructure in place within the whole city and Shire to ensure this whole region gets back into the position and remain in the position of being one of the strongest economic areas, not just in Scotland, but in the whole of the UK.”
McInnes also praised Aberdeen City Council’s vote.
He said: “This is a fantastic day for the club and hopefully keeps us on track for the new training facilities to be in place for season 2019/20.
“Since my first day here, nearly five years ago, I’ve been saying the current facilities that we have to put up with are the poorest in the Premiership and it’s an area of conversation I try to avoid when selling the club to potential new players.
“I appreciate there is still an extensive amount of work to be done but the decision does feel like a watershed in terms of realising our ambitions and the amount of work that so many people, the board, our staff, our professional advisers and, of course, the fans, have done to help reach this stage cannot be underestimated.”