ABERDEEN fans would face the “unthinkable” prospect of travelling to the central belt to watch the club playing in Europe – unless a new £50 million stadium and training complex goes ahead, a senior football figure has warned.

Andrew McKinlay, the Chief Operating Officer of the Scottish Football Association, said the club would be forced to move some 'home' Europa League games away from the Granite City causing local businesses and the Dons ‘a significant loss of revenue.’ He was speaking at a public hearing into a proposed new £50 million, 20,000 seater stadium proposed by the club and backed by the SFA for Kingsford, on the outskirts of the city.

Mr McKinlay said the current stadium faced “significant challenges” to comply with both domestic and Uefa regulations.

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He said the pitch was struggling to gain more than a silver level standard in the SFA club licensing regime due to its smaller field dimensions and provisions for disabled supporters, media and uncovered spectator areas were also under scrutiny.

He said Aberdeen was one of Scotland’s most “prominent and successful clubs.

But at a pre-determination hearing for the plans at Aberdeen City Council, Mr McKinlay warned the narrower pitch and other issues meant “were Aberdeen in the wonderful position of having qualified for the group stages of the Europa League, they would face significant and possibly insurmountable challenges to host their matches at Pittodrie.”

He added: “The thought of Aberdeen having to play these games in the central belt is one that is rightly unthinkable to the thousands of Aberdeen fans who would want to attend these games.

“Indeed there would be a significant loss of revenue to the club and the city of Aberdeen and it goes without saying that neither the club nor the city would want to send out this message to the rest of the footballing world.”

Dons manager Derek McInnes said four and a half years after taking the job his players were still training on “unacceptable” public park and rugby ground pitches after vowing “never to train there again” on his first day.

He said the stadium would be a “real game changer for us and such a fantastic opportunity” to move up in Europe.

Members of the No Kingsford Stadium campaign group set up after the proposals were announced have raised concerns about increased traffic in the area during match days and parking problems on residential streets in the commuter town.

But Katherine Sneeden, of Jigsaw planning, for the No Kingsford Stadium group, sad the plans for the site went against the local development plan adopted in January and would have a ‘huge impact’ on the loss of the green belt with more noise and traffic and would actually hurt the city centre’s businesses through loss of footfall from fans.