Aberdeen supremo Dave Cormack is thankful the club have managed to agree wage cuts with staff as he tries to ensure there will be no redundancies due to the coronavirus crisis.
As a result of the pandemic, Cormack stated the Dons were facing a £10 million blackhole in their finances.
Negotiations with club employees about wage cuts started last month and now the Reds have agreed a reduction on average of 20% with all staff who earn more than £30,000 a year, which will save £1m this financial year.
The funding gap is now £3.8m after the agreed cuts – combined with a £2m cash injection from investors, £2m of savings as a result of the government’s job retention scheme, rates relief and operational cost cutting, an extra £1m from higher-than-expected season ticket sales and an extra £200,000 from less-than-expected refunds for 2019-20 season tickets and hospitality.
Pittodrie chairman Cormack said: “We’ve collaborated and come to an agreement that will save the club about £1 million across the board.
“It is something we put to the player group and one way or another this has affected more than 100 people at the club.
“We worked collaboratively with our captain Joe Lewis and player rep Mikey Devlin.
“They have worked with Kevin MacIver, our financial director, and the players’ union (PFA Scotland). They came up with the solution which is how we got to this stage.
“I learned a long time ago you can’t force things on people.
“It’s not easy having conversations with people about cuts versus deferred payments, but we don’t want any redundancies on anybody and we look after the small guy. That was our goal.”
In April, Aberdeen agreed wage deferrals with employees to ease strain on the club’s finances.
However, that was when it was hoped full crowds could be present in stadiums by September.
Since April it has become clear that is highly unlikely to be the case and the Reds have had to make further savings.
Cormack added: “At the beginning we had to react because it was important to do something.
“At that stage, rightly or wrongly, all the evidence was that we’d be playing in front of full crowds some time in September.
“As this went on over the next three months it became clear that wouldn’t be the case and it would be longer.
“Scottish clubs – and Aberdeen is no different – make a lot of money from season tickets and particularly game-day hospitality. Ours (hospitality customers) is phenomenal, we have 1,000 people at every game.
“When you look at that, that’s when we started to realise we had something more significant that we need to deal with.
“We’re now budgeting for limited crowds for most, if not the whole season.
“A few weeks ago we talked about not being back to full crowds until January – it might be March.
“What we’ve done is look at every project the club was working on and anything that was a longer term and peripheral we’ve put on the backburner to get through this.
“We need to invest in things that are essential to us. We have to have a competitive team there and we already had the players on the wage bill anyway because there was nobody out of contract.”
When it comes to further plugging the £3.8m funding gap, Aberdeen are exploring a number of options.
They hope to increase season ticket sales from the current 7,600 to 9,000 and AberDNA membership from 6,250 to 7,000.
While anticipating limited crowds for most, or all, of the new season, Cormack believes the numbers allowed into stadiums will gradually increase.
It looks like October at the earliest before fans will return, but the Dons reckon if social distancing was reduced to one metre they could have 9,000 inside Pittodrie.
“The ticket office team walked the stadium to look at things like groups of families sitting together and we now believe with 1 metre distancing we could get 9,000 fans in.”
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Cormack said: “We will move to limited crowds at some stage but it will rise in increments.
“From the initial view of getting 7,500 fans in, the ticket office staff and stadium management team have walked the stadium and really looked at one-metre distancing.
“We believe we can get 9,000 in. We’d all like to go from 9,000 to 15-20,000, but it might only be 12,000 for the season.
“If that is the case we may not be able to welcome walk-up fans or visiting fans for a significant part of the season.
“We’re at 7,600 season tickets sold and we feel we can accommodate 1,400 more based on the modelling we’ve done.
“The fans have been unbelievable, incredible. As far as the refunds went, we actually refunded about 10% of what was due, which was remarkable.
“We budgeted for 20 to 25% being refunded, so it was amazing from our fans and seasonal clients.”