A standing section is to be introduced at Pittodrie in a bid to bring a red revolution to Aberdeen.
We can reveal the club’s battleplan to turn up the volume at the stadium – and it all came about when new chairman Dave Cormack went undercover.
Before taking up the role on Monday, Mr Cormack turned spy to see stewards in action – and did not like what he saw.
He has now unveiled his vision to boost attendances, make tickets cheaper and rein in the killjoys.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Evening Express to mark his first week in the job, Mr Cormack said: “I went and observed our stewards at the Kilmarnock game at Pittodrie on November 2. I didn’t tell them I was doing it.
“Then I went to see the supervisors and all the security at the St Mirren game on November 30.
“I said ‘listen guys, I’m just being constructive here, but it’s unacceptable what I saw. These are the fans, these are the lifeblood of the club’.”
Mr Cormack said he wants stewards to be a friendly face.
“We went through some real examples. Even if staff have a smile on their face, it helps people enjoy the day more.
“We get an email every other week from fans who say ‘my son and I were in an area where people stand up and then sit down often and he couldn’t see, but nobody would help us move’.
“So how do we fix that over a period?
“In sections S and T of the South Stand, we will probably say to people next season ‘if you want to buy a season ticket or a match ticket for there – this is an active area (where people want to stand) and we’re going to be very light touch on people standing there. We’re going to put more fan-stand representatives and fewer stewards there.
“People will then be allocated to that area, like our supporter liaison officer Lynn Fiske.
“She will get to know the fans in that area and there will be some self-policing.
“We are planning to hire a fan engagement manager as well.”
Mr Cormack paid tribute to the work of outgoing chairman Stewart Milne, who was at the helm for 22 years, and said there was room to build on his success.
“Stewart worked wonders for the club. He will be a hard act to follow.”
He described the noise made by Dons fans attending away games as “phenomenal” and said: “I would love to replicate that at Pittodrie.
“I think atmosphere is critical.
“We’re going to implement some segmentation to encourage the active fan which we have discouraged.
“We’ve turned off hundreds of people.
“In 2008 we had all the One Love and the ultras (who were encouraged to stand and sing).”
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Mr Cormack said he has fond memories of being a fan in the Beach End of Pittodrie in the 1970s and said it is important today’s fans have the freedom to create an atmosphere, but there must also be a place for families who want a clear view.
Those fans would be moved from blocks S and T of the South Stand to the Merkland Family Stand.
“The family stand in the Merkland – we’ll call it the Red Shed.
“Take the families and put them away from the active areas – you guys with the ultras in the South Stand can then knock yourselves out.
“We could have 1,500 to 2,000 people in the Merkland plus 1,600 in the active area next to the away end.”
He said filling 3,600 seats in those two areas combined would be a challenge “but if we make it affordable for 13 to 20-year-olds and don’t overcharge them for tickets, they will come”.
Another plan is to move season ticket holders out of the Richard Donald Stand upper tier. Mr Cormack said: “This stand costs us money to open for 300 season ticket holders and holds 3,000 people.
“We’re going to shut that, as we did before, and we’ll let the fans decorate it.”
The club wants to test these and other measures so they know what to do before moving to the new 20,000-seat stadium at Kingsford.