Incoming Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack loves knocking big spenders off their perch and aims to do that with Celtic and Rangers.
Cormack accepts the Dons will be unable to compete with the Glasgow two financially – but that does not eradicate any hope of pushing them in a title race.
The US-based software multi- millionaire will officially replace Stewart Milne as Dons chairman following the club’s Annual General Meeting on December 16.
He faces the challenge of delivering the £45 million stadium to accompany the recently-opened £13m Cormack Park training facility he was key in funding.
However, that will not be done at the expense of footballing ambitions and, while life-long Dons fan Cormack is realistic about the Scottish football landscape, he is also ambitious.
Asked if he could foresee a time under his stewardship where Aberdeen will be pushing Celtic and Rangers in a title race, he said: “That is the goal.
“I am never one to give up in competing. Every season is a new season and an opportunity to win everything we play for.
“Last season if it was based on away form we would have won the league.
“Obviously the home form was a challenge for us.
“Listen, you can never say never and we will give it a real go.
“I am quite competitive and hate losing.
“I love a challenge of knocking somebody off a perch that spends more than I do, whether it be on a software product or whether on a football pitch.
“With my own software businesses through the three start ups that I had that grew successfully and were sold, I was told none of them would work by some people.
“We created $2 billion of value in doing that.
“I like people telling me ‘you can’t do this’.
“I see it as a challenge. I am a fan at heart and I want to put a smile on Dons fans’ faces.
“I will do my utmost to do it although there is no guarantee of success. But as they say up here ‘I will give it a good lash’.”
Since Cormack returned to the club two years ago, he has overseen major investment into Aberdeen with £9.2m coming from the imminent chairman and fellow investors Tom Crotty, Roger Lees and AMB Sports & Entertainment, parent company of MLS side Atlanta United.
The boardroom changes come with fresh investment of £5m led by Cormack to provide working capital for the club’s day-to-day operations. AMB Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of Atlanta United, are investing £2m as part of that new package of investment.
Cormack said: “I love the term ‘cash is king’ and the £5m coming in isn’t to be blown in a day or two. We have £750,000 more per year in costs for Cormack Park and rightly so.
“Everything we do will be geared towards the success of the football operation.”
Aberdeen’s accounts for the financial year ended June 30, which were sent to shareholders at the weekend, reveal an increase in turnover of £500,000 from £15.4m to £15.9m.
Total staff costs increased from £8.5m to £9.2m.
However, this is low in comparison to Celtic’s £60m player wage. Cormack accepts the Old Firm are in an arms race for supremacy, but the Reds will not become collateral damage.
Instead Cormack and his board, along with new strategic partners Atlanta, will search for ways to fight above their weight against the Glasgow two.
Cormack said: “Celtic and Rangers are involved in a bit of an arms race trying to outbid each other with wages.
“Our wage bill, even though it is up now, Celtic still have one that is six times what we have.
“We are never going to be able to bridge that gap.
“Trying to bridge the gap is about increasing our turnover.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge of Cormack’s tenure will be delivering the new stadium at Kingsford.
That move will go ahead because, as Cormack insists, remaining at Pittodrie is not financially feasible.
More importantly the incoming Dons chief insists staying at Pittodrie would not be capable of generating major investment.
The move will progress, but he is fluid about when it will be.
Most pertinent for Dons supporters is whether Aberdeen will remain in the black once the stadium is delivered.
Asked if he was confident he could raise the money for the new stadium without the club going into debt, Cormack replied: “That is obviously the goal.
“Our accounts have just come out and the valuation of Pittodrie has gone down (to £11m) because of the economy here.
“That is a factor involved in it.
“What I will say is I believe the opportunity is there for us to build the stadium out there (at Kingsford).
“I cannot guarantee it will take three years or five years.
“What I can guarantee is that we will be transparent with our fans and we won’t build anything out there without fans being fully involved in the design and in the things that we do.
“Between now and then we are working on some plans to make Pittodrie more of a fortress from a fans’ perspective.
“We all agree at the club we could have done more in consultation with our fans, those that want to be in a lively section.”