Aberdeen Football Club has launched a major campaign to demonstrate widespread support for its planned new community and sports campus, football academy and stadium.
With Sir Alex Ferguson leading the rallying call, AFC is appealing to fans and the wider public to voice their support for the plans and make Aberdeen a centre of footballing excellence.
The Aurora campaign, taken from the Latin word for new dawn, has already secured the backing of Dons legends, sporting champions and prominent members of the business community.
AFC hero and Gothenburg Great Willie Miller, golf champion Paul Lawrie and supporter Mike Loggie, chief executive of The Saltire Energy Group, are some of those who have thrown their weight behind the plans.
AFC executive vice chairman, George Yule, said: “In the run up to a decision on our planning application, we want to demonstrate the huge amount of support out there for our plans. I’m constantly approached by people wanting to know what we’re doing to galvanise support and how they can help us get this application over the line. This campaign is our response. It provides a focal point and clear calls to action so that they can make their voices heard.”
Those who support the plans are being urged to demonstrate their backing through displaying the Aurora branded material, posting supportive comments on social media using the hashtag #AllForAurora and providing public endorsements.
Building a modern stadium, bespoke training facilities for its first team and youth academy and dedicated multi-purpose facilities for the AFC Community Trust is vital for AFC to achieve a successful and sustainable future and to maximise its socio-economic contribution to the city and wider region.
Sir Alex Ferguson, who famously led the Dons to victory against Real Madrid in 1983, said: “The Club’s plans are ambitious, inspiring and inclusive. With best-in-class football training pitches and academy on the same site as a modern stadium, AFC has the opportunity to steal a march on other European clubs.
“I’m whole-heartedly behind the plans and encourage fans to get behind the campaign too. Not just the amazing fans, but also the wider public who can share in and benefit from the success of an ambitious football club. Together, let’s make Aberdeen a centre of footballing and sporting excellence.”
If planning consent is granted in October, the proposals will see £50million invested to create a new home for the Dons with football training pitches and academy that will also provide a base for the significant expansion of the award-winning work of the Aberdeen FC Community Trust on social inclusion, participation in sport and healthy lifestyles for all ages across the region.
Mr Yule added: “The city really got behind us ahead of the Cup Final and that is the kind of level of support we are hoping for ahead of the decision by councillors in a few weeks’ time. We are urging everyone, who also believes in the huge opportunities a new stadium will bring, to get behind the Aurora campaign and show our elected members that there is overwhelming support for our vision to become a reality.
“Over 17 years, we have spent considerable time, money and effort on taking forward plans which have failed due to reasons outwith our control. While we accept that there are those with genuine concerns about the location, and we remain committed to addressing these, we finally have a site that is within our control, affordable and deliverable. This could be our last chance to realise our long-held vision of a new stadium and facilities that are fit for the 21st century. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity.”
The Club’s plans for the 25-hectare site at Kingsford, near Westhill, would see the construction of the largest new-build stadium in Scotland in 100 years and are seen as a critical step in AFC’s bid to achieve UEFA top 100 status.
Dons manager Derek McInnes believes the planned facilities will inspire future generations of fans as well as budding young footballers.
“I urge everyone who is in favour of the plans to get behind us,” he said. “We will be building a stadium that supports our ambition and meets the expectations of our fans alongside outstanding community sports facilities. As well as helping us to attract the best talent on-the-pitch possible, Kingsford would be a focal point for community engagement and footballing excellence for the north of Scotland and an inspiration for future generations of local youngsters.”
When developing the plans, the Club consulted with fans and other stakeholders and looked at best in class facilities in stadia across the UK and Europe. The single tier, fully enclosed stadium would dramatically improve atmosphere, while minimising the visual impact on the surrounding area.
The stadium, its concourse areas and the wider site facilities would offer a much more comfortable and accessible match-day experience for everyone, from young to old – encouraging greater family attendance and providing a beacon for the fans of the future.
The new facilities will also allow the AFC Community Trust to engage with many more children, young people and adults across a range of spaces.
Ally Prockter, chief executive of AFC Community Trust, said: “The wider community benefits at the proposed new community and stadium facilities would be delivered via AFC Community Trust. With access to purpose-built modern facilities, we will be able to significantly increase our reach across north-east Scotland on the basis of genuine need.”
For details of how to support the Aurora campaign, visit www.afc.co.uk/Aurora and use the hashtag #AllForAurora on social media.