Pittodrie legend Bobby Clark insists Aberdeen face a challenge to hold onto their stars if English clubs come calling.
The January transfer window has now opened and English clubs are expected to step up their interest in leading scorer Sam Cosgrove and Scotland international defender Scott McKenna.
Former Dons and Scotland keeper Clark insists the cash power of clubs south of the border due to television finance makes it an uphill task for Scottish clubs like Aberdeen to retain their top talent.
However, Clark insists even if the Reds cannot retain their star players long term, the club is still set up to deliver success due to the management team in place.
The 74-year-old said: “If you bring players through and make them into top players it is much harder to hold onto them now than before the Bosman rule.
“It is hard for Scottish teams to compete with the English Premier League because of the television money.
“That is a challenge for Aberdeen. However, Aberdeen have the right people in charge and are built to deliver success.
“The facilities at Cormack Park are great, but ultimately it is the people that matter.
“I am a great believer in people. Aberdeen have the right people with Derek McInnes, Tony Docherty (assistant manager) and Gordon Marshall (goalkeeping coach).
“They have a really good first team squad and then there is Neil Simpson (Head of AFC Youth Academy).”
The Bosman ruling was passed by the European Court of Justice in 1995 and ruled that clubs no longer had to pay transfer fees after the expiration of a player’s contract.
The rule was the result of Belgian midfielder Jean-Marc Bosman’s fight against his then-employer RFC Liege.
Before the Bosman ruling, a player could not leave at the end of their deal unless that club agreed to let him go on a free, or that club received an agreed fee from a buying club. The Bosman ruling allowed a player to leave a club on a free transfer as soon as their contract expired.
That flipped the balance of power as players now had leverage to demand signing-on fees and salaries from new clubs to make up for absent transfer fee.
Players coming to the end of their contract could also ask for more money from their current club, who would fear losing that player on a free.
Aberdeen are in the driving seat with Cosgrove and McKenna as both are secured on long-term contracts.
Middlesbrough, Derby County and Stoke City are tracking prolific scorer Cosgrove, who became the first Aberdeen player to net 20 goals before Christmas since Duncan Shearer in 1992.
Cosgrove is contracted until the summer of 2022, having signed an extension last January.
QPR are also reportedly set to step up their interest in centre-back McKenna after having a bid rejected towards the English summer transfer deadline.
Aberdeen had rejected a £6.5m bid from Aston Villa for McKenna the previous summer window.
McKenna is contracted to Aberdeen until summer 2023.
Capped 13 times for Scotland, McKenna is a product of the Pittodrie youth system and recently made his 100th appearance for the Reds. Clark is confident Aberdeen’s youth system will continue to produce first-team talent.
He believes the £13m Cormack Park, which is home to the Bobby Clark Football Academy, will be fundamental to that.
He said: “Cormack Park can help bring through young players and it is great that Neil Simpson is now the director of coaching.
“When I think back to Simmy, he was the first boy that progressed from the schoolboy coaching into Aberdeen’s ranks.
“For him to have made that jump and then to have played as well as he did, to now be running it, is absolutely fantastic.”
Signed in 1965, Clark won all three domestic trophies with Aberdeen.
Capped 17 times for Scotland, he was part of the 1978 World Cup squad in Argentina.