Dons boss Derek McInnes today hailed Stewart Milne’s legacy for future generations as the club chairman announced he was stepping down after 22 years at the helm.
Current vice-chairman Dave Cormack is set to be his replacement in what is the biggest restructuring at Pittodrie for more than two decades.
As well as the boardroom reshuffle, the Dons also announced new investment with AMB Sports & Entertainment and a strategic partnership with Atlanta United, the US Major League Soccer side.
AMB Sports & Entertainment, which is run by New York-born billionaire Arthur Blank, owns Atlanta United and NFL side the Atlanta Falcons and operates the 75,000-capacity Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Mr Milne said: “For four years, we’ve been working on a succession plan. It’s been no easy task to find the right person who is willing to take on the onerous role of chairman, with responsibility for both the financial health and growth of the club.
“In bringing Dave on to the board and then appointing him vice-chairman, we viewed him as the natural successor.
“He qualifies on both counts. He is prepared to take on the commitment and has already proved his ability to secure significant new investment. Importantly, he is passionate about Aberdeen and the club.”
The reshuffle will also see the club’s chief executive Duncan Fraser leave with immediate effect and board directors Ian Jack, Duncan Skinner and Craig Brown are also stepping down to make way for the new investors.
Mr Fraser will remain as a non-executive board director while Mr Brown is to remain at the club in an ambassadorial role, and Mr Skinner will continue as chairman of the board of trustees of Aberdeen FC Community Trust.
Paying tribute to Mr Milne’s time as chairman, Derek McInnes told the Evening Express: “I knew at my interview that Stewart and the board were going to be people I could work with.
“It is extremely important for any manager to have not only a chairman with whom he has a strong relationship, but a chairman who himself is robust and resilient.
“Being chairman of a football club can often be a thankless task, but Stewart has shown great leadership, tenacity and courage during his tenure, particularly in the delivery of the new training facility.
“There is no bigger supporter of Aberdeen Football Club than Stewart and he has overseen something we can all be proud of, a facility my staff, players and future generations will reap the benefits of.
“The working relationship we have enjoyed together has undoubtedly helped the club on and off the field.”
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Mr Milne said he believed it was the right time to step aside as chairman.
He said: “I have always said I would relinquish the reins when the right opportunity arose and I believe that time has now come.
“I’m proud to have had the opportunity to lead the club I love for over two decades. It’s been a real privilege but not without its challenges. Like the fans, I’ve shared in a rollercoaster of emotions from pure joy and exhilaration through to frustration and despair.
“We have been in a consistently healthier position for several years now and I’m pleased to be able to hand the club over to safe hands in the knowledge that we are debt-free and have more than doubled revenues from around £7.8m in 2013 to almost £16m today.
“The opening of the £12m Cormack Park at Kingsford represents the completion of phase one of our vision for a new home.
“We’ve achieved this while still increasing the first team budget to its highest level yet and continuing to invest in our youth programme. Our annual spend on the overall football operation now amounts to £9m.”
The news came as club accounts for the financial year ending June 30 2019 revealed an increase in turnover of £500,000 from £15.4m to £15.9m – a new record for Aberdeen FC.
Total staff costs rose from £8.56m to £9.24m and the wages to turnover ratio increased from 56% to 58%, reflecting continued investment in the first team squad.
The operating loss pre-amortisation (paying off debt) was £0.58m which compares to a small profit in the previous year. The position over the five-year business plan period shows a profit of almost £1.5m.