By Graeme Murray
Football legend Sir Alex Ferguson has returned to his old club to mark the opening of Aberdeen FC’s £12m football training campus.
The former manager, who steered the club through its most successful period, was guest of honour at the opening ceremony of the community sports hub.
The Cormack Park campus, which includes training facilities and a football academy, is the first phase of the club’s plans, which involve a new stadium.
Sir Alex, was joined by former player Bobby Clark, manager Derek McInnes, club chairman Stewart Milne and vice-chairman Dave Cormack, who gives the campus its name.
He said: “I am greatly honoured to officially open these magnificent facilities which are part of Aberdeen’s broader ambition for the future of the club, its players and its fans.
“The positive impact on performance and morale of best-in-class training facilities cannot be underestimated – and these facilities are up there with some of the best I’ve seen.
“There is no doubt that Cormack Park will help the club to attract, retain and develop the players and coaches it needs to compete at the highest level.
“The club has to be congratulated for pursuing the vision to develop these training facilities and taking on the significant challenge of building its new stadium on the adjacent land in order to derive greater benefits for the club, its players – particularly the future generation – and the wider community. This will be the envy of many other clubs, not just in Scotland.”
The campus is home to the Bobby Clark Football Academy and the AFC Community Trust.
It boasts a state-of-the art training pavilion, groundsman’s accommodation, three professional training pitches, two floodlit 3G pitches and two grass pitches.
There is also outdoor and indoor space for a variety of community-based sporting and recreational activities.
McInnes said: “Having been the manager of this great club for over six years, it is truly an exciting day to finally see our vision for the training facilities come to fruition.
“Not only will these fantastic new facilities assist us in attracting the best talent to the club, it will enable us to intensify our coaching hours and increase on-pitch time, which is crucial in the development of our players.
“They will now enjoy a professional training base, offering them the opportunity to train in a high-performance environment with best-in-class football medicine, sports science and performance analysis directly on hand.
“Cormack Park will allow AFC to become a beacon for footballing excellence in the North of Scotland and hopefully inspire future generations of Dons’ players and fans.”
Club chairman Milne expressed his delight at finally having completed phase one of the two-phase £55m development at Kingsford, with a new stadium on the horizon.
He said: “On completion of phase two, we will have a complex that will act as a catalyst for greater sporting achievements and events in the region and will aid our quest to be a UEFA top 100 club.
“This progressive, modernisation strategy will lead the way in Scottish football with an integrated facility that acts as a destination and visitor attraction, forming a key part of the regeneration we are seeing across the city and wider region.”
Vice-chairman Cormack, added: “After 116 years, our famous club now has its own state-of-the-art training facilities.
“And in-keeping with Aberdeen FC’s family and inclusive tradition, these facilities are fully accessible to the community through the AFC Community Trust.”