Winger Jonny Hayes has deferred payment of his wages for a year to secure a return to Aberdeen.
Dons boss Derek McInnes today confirmed the 32-year-old will go for a year without being paid his salary to help the club cope with the Covid-19 crisis.
Hayes, who was a free agent having left Celtic, signed a two-year contract.
With Aberdeen facing a projected £10 million loss due to the pandemic, McInnes admits there was no chance of landing Hayes without the winger’s sacrifice.
The club has entered into negotiations with players, management and staff regarding potential wage cuts to offset £1m losses per month.
McInnes accepts the club cannot make new signings while asking players and staff to take wage cuts.
Hayes, who starred for the Dons for five years until leaving for Celtic for £1.3m in 2017, stepped up with his unique solution to push a Pittodrie return through.
McInnes said: “What Jonny had to do to get it done is quite unusual as he has effectively deferred all his wages for a full season.
“We can’t be asking players and staff to be taking cuts and still signing players.
“As much as we wanted Jonny, the truth of the matter was we weren’t in a position to do it.
“Without Jonny offering to make that situation happen, we would not have been able to do it.
“Jonny’s desire to be here and his willingness to defer his salary for that first year and help make it happen is absolutely a brilliant gesture from him. It has allowed us to make that signing.
“Jonny is someone I have always kept in touch with and having an opportunity to take him back was always something we were going to try to take further.
“In the current climate we never really thought this was something that could be done.
“The club and board have helped support it.
“But it couldn’t have been done without Jonny’s willingness and sacrifice to be here.”
Hayes won three Premier League titles, two League Cups and the Scottish Cup during his three years at Celtic.
Hoops manager Neil Lennon was initially set to hand Hayes a new contract, but the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent cost-cutting led to his exit.
Hayes made 207 appearances for Aberdeen between 2012-17 before transferring to Celtic.
He lifted the League Cup with the Dons in 2014 and netted the opener in the 2-1 Scottish Cup final loss to the Hoops in 2017.
That was to be his final game for the Dons.
Newly-promoted Dundee United had targeted Hayes and the winger was also on the radar of English Championship clubs Stoke City, Preston and Cardiff City.
McInnes said: “Jonny clearly wanted to come to Aberdeen and I am sure he would have had plenty of options in the next few weeks once things settle down and the transfer window opens.
“We always knew we could be in the box seat because Jonny was always upfront in conversations that he wanted to come back to Aberdeen.
“He loved his time in the north-east and he wants to settle with his family here.
“For his life after football, Jonny wants to live in the north-east.”
Republic of Ireland international Hayes met up with the Dons for pre-season training at the club’s Cormack Park training facility yesterday.
He arrived having made 26 appearances for the Premiership champions last season.
He played a pivotal role in the 2-1 defeat of Italian Serie A title, chasing Lazio away from home in the Europa League in November.
McInnes said: “I am really pleased to get a player of Jonny’s quality in.
“He is obviously coming to us on the back of a successful campaign for both himself and Celtic.
“I cannot wait to see Jonny perform in our team once again.”