This should be a time for great excitement at the club. As well as a new manager, we have a design for our new ground, AFC has got over a major hurdle to getting the stadium built and have got a chunk of funding in place — we should all be happy shouldn't we? But most of us are not.
The location where the club wants to put the ground has not gone down well with the majority of fans. The site in Cove we are told has been chosen due to it being cheaper — around £4 million cheaper — to build the new ground there rather than at the beach, and is easier logistically, in terms of space.
If those where the only variables in the equation then it would be easy: build the ground in Cove. However, like with most things linked to AFC, it is not that simple. The club would be making a saving building the new stadium in Cove, but those savings could be potentially for nothing if there is a couple of thousand less paying punters in our new home every week.
For those who do not live in Aberdeen and travel north for the games, there will, of course, be a benefit of the new ground being built on the south side of the city. While their support should not be forgotten and their committment should be praised, they are in the minority compared to those who attend games and reside in Aberdeen itself and those who travel from the north of the city. So it does appear that AFC are not catering for the majority.
Should Company A want to bring out a new product, but are not sure what their target market requires from their new product, they would ask their target market what they want in order to make their new product a success. So when the overwhelming majority of their customers want Product X over Product Y they will not opt to create Product Y. This is where AFC have fallen short. There appears to be little, if any, consultation with fans and that is surely the biggest mistake they can make. If youíre going to make a new £30 million stadium, you want to make sure people are going to attend, surely?
And why do most folk not want the ground in Cove?
For a large chunk of fans, going for a pint or two (or more) with mates, relatives etc before and/or after the game is almost, or in some cases equally, as important as the game itself. These people fill the social clubs, golf clubs and pubs around Pittodrie, King Street and the Castlegate end of Union Street. Loristen would not be able to cater for all of these people as it does seem unlikely that fans will fancy a pint in the Brig O'Dee and then walk to the match.
There is also the chipper right outside the RDS, the newsagent at the top of Merkland Road and the Indian takeaway on Merkland Road etc, basically quite a few facilities there to cater for thousands of football fans' needs. And should the new ground be built at the beach, those facilities would still be accessible. Having driven around the proposed site for the new ground, there does not appear to be anything of the sort at Loirston Loch.
Access to Pittodrie is not ideal, but while not being the best place to get to or away from, there are at least three major bus routes that go in the vicinity of the current stadium and there is a fair amount of parking available (if you know where to look). As far as I'm aware, only the 21 bus goes near Loristen and it is unclear where any parking will be. What's that AFC? Youíll build a car park? Fantastic. So everyone can get parked... but take two hours to get out of as there is only a couple of routes away from Cove. Great. Can't wait. It will be interesting to see thousands of folk cramming into a number 21 bus also.
Speaking as a fan who attends every home game a season and around three-quarters of away games, on my travels I am yet to meet a Pittodrie regular that thinks moving to Loristen is a good idea... and that includes some who live in Cove! This could be that they are looking at the bigger picture, something AFC has been accused of NOT doing on many occasions. Most of these fans, however, do agree that a new ground is required, but just not in the proposed location.
Some fans have commented along the lines of: 'stop moaning and let's get on with it'. If most folk had that attitude then moving to Cove would not be a problem, but unfortunately that does not appear to be the case. Having read through a large part of certain questionnaire that did the rounds a month or so ago, most fans will be likely to attend fewer games if the new ground was built in Cove.
The new ground in the new location may well end up being a success and may attract new punters going to a purpose-built site on the outskirts of the city. However from a personal perspective it seems like an unnecessary risk. While we could end up having more fans going to games in Cove and be debt-free, moving to Cove could also be potentially signing the club's death warrant.
Thanks to Red_Sheeeep, Tubilay, Bobby Biscuit and The Stooge for their articles in recent weeks - have a look on the Aberdeen-Mad homepage if you haven't yet read their brilliant contributions to the Dons' best fansite!
If anyone would like to contribute an article on any topic you feel is important to supporters of Aberdeen FC, such as the new stadium, the new manager, club finances or anything else, please email me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. You don't need a degree, just a passionate interest in our club!
All opinions are welcome.
Stand Free Ed