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Former AFC Director Jim Cummings in P+J


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Aberdeen can do it the Barca way

Former Pittodrie director urges a Reds rights issue as he takes the board to task

 

Published: 19/05/2010

 

Aberdeen Football Club’s largest individual shareholder and former director Jim Cummings has launched a blistering attack on the Pittodrie regime.

 

Cummings, 60, is distraught at what he views as a rapidly spiralling decline of the club he supports and has called for a radical revamp of the management structure at the Dons.

 

The Edinburgh-based Aberdonian, who became a millionaire when he sold 20% of his company Pilgrim Systems, is frustrated by the lack of progress on and off the pitch and believes by widening the club’s shareholder base they could emulate the successful membership model which works so well at European champions Barcelona.

 

Cummings, who resigned from Aberdeen’s board in 2001 after a high-profile attempted coup to oust chairman Stewart Milne, still owns a 13% stake in the club but he has no qualms about diluting his stake if it brings an improvement in the club’s fortunes.

 

He said: “Aberdeen is an institution and belongs to the people of the north-east and Dons supporters everywhere. I appreciate a rights issue would be seen as a vote of confidence in the existing leadership of the club and that cannot be avoided.

 

“I would assume the Stewart Milne Group Ltd and Aberdeen Asset Management plc would have little problem in taking up their rights, raising significant new funds, but I think the other directors must also get involved.

 

“If not, supporters will begin to question why they are there and whether they could be replaced by a new group of people prepared to make some level of investment.”

 

A bitter disagreement cost Cummings his place on the Aberdeen board almost a decade ago. The relationship has remained firmly frozen since but he insists his call for fresh investment and a switch to a supporter-owned model is driven by a desire to get the club competing at the top end of the table again after a dismal season and is not an attack on Milne.

 

However, it is clear the Milne-Cumming divide is as wide as ever.

 

Cummings said: “There is enmity between Stewart and I. He felt I wanted his job and I didn’t lie. I told him somewhere down the line I would love to take over from him.

 

“I wanted to see some sort of succession planning and all these years later that hasn’t changed.

 

“This is not the start of some campaign by me to buy the club and I am not fronting a group of businessmen. But it is clear there are wealthy people who care about the Dons and I believe there must be a way of getting them involved.

 

“Would I be prepared to get involved again? It would depend on who I would be working with.

 

“If there was a clamour for me to take a leading role and enough people supported it then, of course, I would consider it but I am not actively seeking a return.

 

“I do know Stewart and I cannot work together. It would take a fundamental change either in his ethos or in how the club is run for a return to happen.”

 

Cummings rounded on the other directors at Pittodrie and challenged them to do more in their roles.

 

He said: “I believe Stewart does care about the club and he does support it financially but what about the other directors?

 

“If they all put in £100,000, which I think they can all afford to do, it would make a huge difference. But if they are not prepared to do it then why are they there?

 

“Getting on to the board is not an honour, it’s a responsibility. It is obvious little has changed since I left the board.”

 

Cummings, who was a key player in the formation of the pressure group AFC 2000, has called for a drastic change in approach and hopes the Pittodrie board will welcome his appeal rather than dismiss it.

 

He said: “The days of a local industrialist running the show are gone and the approach just does not work in the modern game which is why I have called for change. I believe a chairman should stay in power because he is popular and is doing a good job, not because he has the most shares.

 

“The Barcelona model I would like to see gives the supporters and shareholders a say, while also forcing the chairman and his board to set out targets and deliver them. I am pushing for a more democratic approach, I am not asking for the chairman to step aside. He should let the people decide if he is the man to lead us.”

 

Read more: http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1742042#ixzz0oMdMeSt8

we can only dream about our board setting out targets and achieving them ::)
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If not, supporters will begin to question why they are there and whether they could be replaced by a new group of people prepared to make some level of investment.”

 

Begin??  That's being very generous to Milne and the other apathetic directors.

 

Would I be prepared to get involved again? It would depend on who I would be working with.

 

In other words, you will not be getting involved again because bugger all is going to change at board room level.

 

“The Barcelona model I would like to see gives the supporters and shareholders a say, while also forcing the chairman and his board to set out targets and deliver them. I am pushing for a more democratic approach, I am not asking for the chairman to step aside. He should let the people decide if he is the man to lead us.”

 

We're stuck on about year 2 of the 5 year plan implemented about 10 years ago...

 

In theory, what Cummings is proposing is spot on, and I would  love to see this happening. However, where has he been since 2003/4?  Not heard a word from him as far as I can recall. Is he now saying this publicly because of how shite we were on the pitch? Because largely speaking, for the previous 5/6 years the situation in the boardroom has not changed.  We were still saddled with a hideous level of debt with no clear signs of making any sizeable dent in it.

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The bold proposal by Jim Cummings for a radical revamp of how Aberdeen is run has been met with disdain at Pittodrie.

 

The former director’s call for discussion on a supporter-owned model similar to the one utilised by Barcelona and Real Madrid has been dismissed by the club.

 

When asked how he expected the club to respond, Cummings predicted: “I suspect the club will say the timing of this is terrible and I should have gone to them rather than making a statement to the media.

 

“I will be viewed as an irritation they can do without and be told the door is always open.”

 

The Press and Journal took Cummings’s ideas and approached the Dons requesting a response to the questions which arose from Cummings’s proposals.

 

We asked:

 

Will the club have a rights issue?

 

Has one been considered in recent years and, if so, why has it not happened?

 

Do all directors invest in the club annually?

 

If a rights issue was held what would the projection be?

 

The commonly held belief is the board is a barrier to fresh investment. Why is this the case?

 

Would a more democratic, Barcelona-style of ownership work or is it the club's opinion it is doomed to failure or unworkable?

 

If a rights issue is not being considered, how does the club plan on attracting fresh investment?

 

What are the viable alternatives?

 

Supporters have been told for a decade now the club is ahead of the game and will benefit in the long run from the cuts which have been made. When should they expect this benefit to come their way with their team?

 

The club's biggest single shareholder believes apathy has set in and attendance seems to back up his claims. What is being done to re-engage the support?

 

The answers were not forthcoming.

 

A club spokesman said: “We’re somewhat surprised Mr Cummings has not been in touch with anyone at the club regarding this as that would logically have been the first port of call.

 

“The club is continually exploring ways of attracting new investment into AFC, however the reality is football is not currently seen as a particularly attractive investment and certainly the current economic environment is not conducive for going out with a rights issue.

 

“Pointedly, there has been no significant investment into any SPL club for several years.

 

“An important aspect of the ongoing work towards the creation of a new arena for Aberdeen Football Club will be looking at the wider aspects of funding and not just the actual stadium itself.

 

“As far as on-field matters are concerned, we would reiterate nobody is hiding from the fact last season was extremely disappointing and everyone is working very hard behind the scenes to ensure there is a marked improvement next season.”

 

Aberdeen Asset Management, one of the major shareholders in the club, was also approached for its views but both Hugh Little and Martin Gilbert, who are directors at Pittodrie, failed to return calls.

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We're stuck on about year 2 of the 5 year plan implemented about 10 years ago...

 

Jeeeeez, I remember seeing the much publicised "Ten Year Plan" on Scotland Today about ten or fifteen years ago (I was studying in Edinburgh, so must've been almost 15 years ago now). It looked fantastic, with promises that would revolutionise the very existence of Aberdeen Football Club. We kind of started getting there, and then the arse fell out of Scottish Football thanks to the collapse of the SPL TV deal, and as you say we really have been stuck on stage 2 of the 5-year plan for about nine years now.

 

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So, Milne has said repeatedly that if there was another investor out there who wanted his job at AFC then he would happily step aside.  Then why was Cunmmings hounded out of the board if Milne was true to his word.

 

A prime example of how AFC is just a rich boys play thing that they dont REALLY want to invest in.

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So is this cumming re-manouvering to try and oust wiggy then?

 

You would have to think so.  It can't be because he wants to force them into answering his criticisms as he's admitted more or less that they won't do that.  However, he's also claiming he's speaking for himself and himself only so it's not as if he's the head of a consortium or anything like that. Anyone know if he'd have the funds to make a move for either Milne's or AAM's shares?

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On a totally optimistic note.  Maybe this is wht AFC needs. Even if Cumming's doesnt succed in getting rid of Milne (speculating that that is what he is up to), it might force the current board to be a bit more pro-active in such things as communicating with the fan base and even force them into positive change, led by such people as share holders/supporters clubs?

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On a totally optimistic note.  Maybe this is wht AFC needs. Even if Cumming's doesnt succed in getting rid of Milne (speculating that that is what he is up to), it might force the current board to be a bit more pro-active in such things as communicating with the fan base and even force them into positive change, led by such people as share holders/supporters clubs?

 

Dream on.

 

I doubt they'll acknowledge someone has asked questions of them and conveniently not both to answer any questions raised.

 

Same as they've been doing to the fans for years.

 

........goes to start new thread........

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So, Milne has said repeatedly that if there was another investor out there who wanted his job at AFC then he would happily step aside.  Then why was Cunmmings hounded out of the board if Milne was true to his word.

 

A prime example of how AFC is just a rich boys play thing that they dont REALLY want to invest in.

In what way? Cummings financially had nothing to offer?

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So, Milne has said repeatedly that if there was another investor out there who wanted his job at AFC then he would happily step aside.  Then why was Cunmmings hounded out of the board if Milne was true to his word.

 

Further to this, Cummings didn't just want to take over at Aberdeen, he was a CURRENTLY AFC Director, and he was plotting the removal of the board along with key individuals including Willie Miller (I believe Willie was Head of the Supporters Trust at that point) and Dave Cormack (who was the current Dons Chief Exec). The consortium was engineering the removal of Milne, Donald, etc whilst most were current AFC employees / board-members. Effectively, they were looking to sweep the carpet out from underneath Milne's feet at a time when Milne was quite happy with his lot as AFC Chairman.

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