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Aberdeen's Debt Has Cost Them More Than Just Players

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Alex Smith: Aberdeen's debt has cost them more than just players


By Ian Orr


EVERY time Alex Smith sees the Richard Donald Stand towering over Pittodrie he is reminded of the day the club plunged irrevocably into the red.


No one has more respect for the late Dons chairman than the man he hired but Smith insists it was folly to build the edifice costing £4.5million which they couldn't afford.


And the chairman of Scotland's managers and coaches association is adamant their debts of around £9m must be cleared before Aberdeen can make further progress.


Until that happens and the business community provide financial backing for the club, Jimmy Calderwood will struggle to add the quality to his squad needed to meet fans' demands.


Smith said: "When I joined Aberdeen, Dick Donald's credo was never to put Aberdeen a penny in debt and I had to operate within the budget which had been laid out.


"He revealed that when he took over as chairman, his first task was to erase a debt of £37,000 and he never wanted to have to deal with a situation like that ever again.


"He was a great man and it's ironic the stand erected in his memory caused that to happen. It should never have been built until Aberdeen could afford to do so and the club has never recovered from spending the money needed to put it in place.


"It's not realistic to expect Aberdeen to win the championship nowadays although you never set out to settle for third or fourth place. For the club to progress, their debt must be wiped out because that is the main problem holding them back.


"The city is the oil capital of Europe, economically it is one of the strongest in the country yet the club has been deep in the red for many years.


"A united effort is needed from the business community and the heavy-hitters who support the Dons to raise the funds to clear the debt.


"This has to be done before the club can be successful again.


"When Aberdeen sold Russell Anderson to Sunderland for £1m, I advised Jimmy Calderwood to sign Martin Canning from Ross County as a replacement but the club couldn't come up with the £30,000 needed to sign him. That's a ridiculous situation for a club of Aberdeen's standing.


"There is no point in Jimmy looking around the SPL to strengthen his squad. There are good players in the league but he can't afford them."


Smith saw the lynch mob baying for his blood before he was shown the door at Pittodrie and now hears the criticism of Calderwood's regime.


But he warned the Red Army to take a reality check because the game has changed dramatically since Sir Alex Ferguson reigned supreme in Scottish football.


Smith added: "Winning the European Cup-winners' Cup was a fantastic achievement and it is only natural people remember it with pride. But Gothenburg was 25 years ago and will never happen again for Aberdeen because the game has changed irrevocably.


"I tried to use that triumph as a guideline for further success but to emulate Fergie's deeds was impossible because the balance of power constantly shifted away from Pittodrie.


"The Rangers' revolution under Graeme Souness was under way, Celtic were spending huge money to keep up and the Aberdeen fans demanded I do the same.


"But I went a different route and tapped into the market in Holland to sign Theo Snelders, Peter van de Ven, Willem van der Ark, Paul Mason, Theo ten Caat and Hans Gillhaus. They came to Pittodrie because they believed they could further their careers, win trophies and compete in Europe.


"That could never happen now. Gillhaus, who cost £600,000, was a Dutch international and had just won the European Cup with PSV Eindhoven.


"All six were magnificent footballers and if Mason had been a Scot, he'd have amassed more than 50 caps.


"There were 10 internationals in that squad and just thinking back, it still excites me how they could play.


"In my three-and-a-half years, we won two cups, were beaten for the championship on the last day of the season at Ibrox and always finished ahead of Celtic in the league. I had the tools to do the job my way and was sacked when we dropped to third place in the league. Jimmy Calderwood doesn't have the tools.


"He's had sore defeats in the cups but took Aberdeen to the last 32 in the UEFA Cup which was remarkable given his limited resources.


"Those in charge at Pittodrie would have a far better chance of improving by building on their present structure and maintaining stability rather than searching for some miracle-worker to deliver instant results.


"Jimmy Calderwood and Jimmy Nicholl understand Aberdeen and the need to be in the top four on a regular basis but are handicapped by the club's finances.


"It has become increasingly more difficult to build a team because when a promising player emerges, he is lured away to England by a bigger pay packet and the money isn't there to sign a suitable replacement."


Some pretty good comments from Alex Smith.

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Guest swaddon
But he warned the Red Army to take a reality check


Perhaps he's the one that needs to take a reality check. Aberdeen were successful under his regime, fair enough, but that's when he had Jocky Scott working with him.


After sixteen years, you would have thought that Smith and his mouthpiece the Daily Record would have got over it by now. Instead of his constant whining about his sacking at Aberdeen, maybe he should spend his time trying to work out why he was never a successful manager after he left Aberdeen, especially his time at Dundee United.

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Guest swaddon

I didnt read that article as a whine about his sacking. It was mentioned in the passing but it was not the tenor of the piece.

Some good points made imo albeit he overlooked we were 5th(?) when he was sacked


That particular article wasn't a whine about his sacking, but he is often mentioned in the Daily Record as being unfairly sacked as Aberdeen manager.

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