Former Pittodrie chief executive Duncan Fraser today hailed Derek McInnes as an “exceptional manager” Aberdeen are lucky to have.
After 18 years at Aberdeen, Fraser will step down from his role as a non-executive director on July 22 to take on a role within UEFA.
Fraser will also depart his role as a Scottish FA board member on the same day before he embarks on a career with European football’s governing body.
He will take up a position as a mentor within UEFA’s business development programme, UEFA Grow, which provides support to all 55 UEFA member associations.
Rangers and Sunderland both failed in bids to lure McInnes away from Pittodrie in 2017.
Fraser said: “Derek has been an exceptional manager for Aberdeen.
“He has a tremendous knowledge and passion for the game. Derek has brought to the club a consistency that we haven’t seen in well over a generation.
“Aberdeen are really fortunate to have him as their manager, in particular at this point in time.
“For me he is up there as one of the great managers of recent times.”
In his seven years at Pittodrie McInnes has delivered the 2014 League Cup and reached a further three cup finals.
Aberdeen have qualified for Europe for seven successive seasons. Former chief executive Fraser was pivotal in helping the club eliminate all debt in 2014.
Six years ago an investment deal and restructuring wiped out the club’s net debt of £14.49 million.
Fraser believes being debt free was vital to help McInnes’ ambitions for the club.
It also put the club in a stronger position as the coronavirus pandemic hit, despite projected losses of £10m due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Fraser said: “It (being debt free) did help. The club has not got money coming in and we have challenging times.
“Certainly if Aberdeen hadn’t been in the strong financial position it was then things would have been an awful lot harder.
“Being debt free was a fundamental to taking the club forward and helping the board work with Derek about where he could strengthen the squad.
“We concluded that deal about a year-and-a-half after Derek arrived. It definitely helped being able to assist him more than we were able to do.”
Fraser also recognised the contribution of former Scotland boss Craig Brown who was appointed manager in December 2010 with the Reds bottom of the table.
Brown and assistant Archie Knox led them to safety and also built foundations for future years.
Fraser said: “Craig was able to bring real stability at the club and his work for that two-and-a-half years should always be recognised.”
Fraser has also served on the boards of the SPL, SPFL and Scottish FA.
He joined the SFA board in July last year having previously served as a member of the Professional Game Board.
In recent months, Fraser has been a co-chair of the joint response group’s medical subgroup along with Dr John MacLean and has played a key role in helping Scottish football recover and return from the impact of the outbreak.
Fraser will officially step down from his role as non-executive board member with the SFA following the annual general meeting on Wednesday.
He said: “In terms of getting players back to training and being in the position to demonstrate to the government that games could be played from August 1 it has been a huge undertaking.
“John MacLean and medical people from various Scottish sports institutes have been working very closely with the government behind the scenes to move this forward.”
Fraser will officially step down at Pittodrie next week to begin a new career path with UEFA.
He said: “I will be working through UEFA Grow with football federations throughout Europe to assist in their strategic planning and vision going forward to ensure we protect the game for future generations in a sustainable way.
“This really fits the bill in terms of being involved with national associations and being able to put my experience to good use as we move forward.”
Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack paid tribute to Fraser for almost two decades’ service.
Cormack said: “I am grateful to Duncan for his time and dedication throughout his career at AFC.
“Duncan has not only given his expertise to Aberdeen but in recent times also held an important role as a non-executive director at the Scottish FA.
“As co-chair of the medical and player welfare committee, his experience has been beneficial in enabling us to get back training. We wish him all the best.”
Former Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne said: “In the 17 years Duncan and I worked together, his counsel and loyalty were unwavering.
“He helped the club achieve many of our key objectives, ultimately playing a central role in negotiating the deal that eliminated our debt.”
Scottish FA interim president Mike Mulraney said: “Duncan’s experience as a chief executive and, more recently, non-executive director at Aberdeen has been hugely valuable to the Scottish FA beyond his year spent as a board member.
“He has been a colleague and friend for many years and I know he will be a success in his new role (with UEFA).”