After 22 years at the helm outgoing chairman Stewart Milne today warned Aberdeen cannot buy success and must instead build it.
For Milne the key to that philosophy is the recently- opened £13 million Cormack Park training complex and community hub at Kingsford.
Milne insists the main driver for future success is using Cormack Park to bring through exciting young talents – and then selling them at a large profit after they have helped the first team.
For Milne, Aberdeen – who have a £9.2m football operations budget for this season – cannot compete with the £60m of defending champions Celtic.
Instead they have to invest and nurture youth.
Milne said: “We have to realise we will never be in a position to buy success, we have to build it.
“That is why Cormack Park is going to be a huge plank to underpin what we achieve in the future.
“We have to really make Cormack Park work for the club in delivering youngsters going forward.
“We are always going to be a selling club, that is just the reality.
“Cormack Park also has to deliver on the whole football operation. Right from the young kids, the youth and development squads up to the first-team squad.”
US-based multi-millionaire Dave Cormack officially took over from Milne as chairman following the club’s 116th annual general meeting on Monday.
Milne has stepped down leaving the club debt free and having secured European football for six straight years. They have also won a trophy, the 2014 League Cup, and been to three further cup finals.
He insists the appointment of Derek McInnes as manager in March 2013 has been fundamental to the current success, and direction, of the club on and off the park.
Since McInnes was appointed the annual income of the Dons has more than doubled from £7.5m to £16m due to European action, cup runs and high finishes in the Premiership.
Milne said: “The job Derek has done has allowed us to build the momentum we have been able to achieve over the last six years.
“Derek played a huge part in helping us to get the consent (for Kingsford) in the first place.
“He delivered that stability and success in the background that has allowed us to forward plan a lot more effectively.
“Getting through to finals and semi-finals, finishing second or third in the table every season and getting into Europe every year.
“That has all been additional revenues that have enabled us to strengthen the club and underpin the whole thing over the last six years.
“That is the platform we now have.
“If we can combine the benefits of that, what we also now have at Cormack Park and the links with Atlanta United, it will enable us to keep the momentum going.
“We want to grow our revenues going forward and when we relocate out to Kingsford that will enable us to achieve that.”
Milne is confident the club is healthier and stronger than when he took over as chief in 1998. He guided the club through what he views as the toughest ever period in Scottish football that became a perfect storm with the global financial crash of 2008. Many clubs went into administration.
He said: “The last 15 to 20 years has been the most challenging time Scottish football has come through.
“You also throw into the mix that in the middle of that was the worst global financial crisis of 2008 which was comparable with what happened in the 30s.
“That was made worse by the fact that when the global crisis happened Scottish football was probably in its most vulnerable position.
“There were a lot of lessons learned during that period by Scottish football and we are moving back into being in a relatively strong position.
“Following the investment all the clubs have made in youth development we see a clearer way forward.”
Milne will remain on the Aberdeen board as a non-executive director. He will pass on lessons from his 22 years in the hot-seat to his successor Cormack.
He said: “Part of the role is to provide support for Dave.
“I have always been very fortunate to have a lot of good people on the board around me.
“It has never been a one-man show and can never be.
“The one thing I learned pretty early on in football is that you have never cracked it. You think things are going well then it can change so quickly for you.
“That is where it is important that you have the people there who are prepared to rally round when the chips are down.
“You need strength in depth at every level – at board, executive and senior management level.
“A lot of that we have built up in the club over the last eight to 10 years.
“I do believe we are in this position now due to the real strength of depth of people who are committed to this club.”