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Decision-makers should hang heads

ON the field at least, I feel the tide is starting to turn for Aberdeen.

Craig Brown is getting the right type of players in, by which I mean there are now characters in that dressing room who can handle a bit of stick when things aren't going well.

They have finally added some flair in the likes of Jonny Hayes and young Ryan Fraser but also possess the type of player who can get through games like Tuesday night's Scottish Communities League Cup tie against Morton, which Aberdeen won 2-0 after extra-time. The First Division team played well and we all know the cup disasters that have befallen the Pittodrie side in recent years.

I really think Aberdeen can qualify for Europe this season and do well in the cups. But now that they are getting the balance right on the pitch, the next stage for me is to move the club forward off it.

With a new training ground and new stadium on the way, the building blocks would have been in place for the club to thrive and attract an even higher standard of player in the years to come.

But Aberdeen City Council have blown that out of the water with their refusal of planning permission for a training complex at Calder Park. That had been envisaged as a key part of the development of a £38 million, 21,000-seater stadium beside Loirston Loch which the club had hoped to move into by 2015. They are effectively back to square one.

The decision coincided with Labour and their allies taking control of the council after the previous SNP administration had given their backing to Aberdeen's plans.

I think those who presided over it should be ashamed. I'm sure they will try to come up with some excuse, some political spin, but that won't wash with me.

Aberdeen have been trying to make developments like these happen for years. Even when I was there in the 1990s there were plans for a new stadium that never came to fruition. If the council had backed the latest proposals, it would have helped the city in the long run. It would have helped further encourage the crowds which are coming back to Pittodrie, and there would have been spin-offs for the council and community as a whole.

Some fans wouldn't be happy about moving away from Pittodrie, but there have been a lot of fans at a lot of clubs over the years who didn't want to move but changed their minds once it happened. Football supporters are set in their ways.

There was uproar when Arsenal's fans found out they were moving away from Highbury. But when a club actually moves into its new, modern home, the supporters tend to love it.

Aberdeen is a one-club city where everyone should be pulling in the same direction, but the Dons have been a downward spiral for years.

They haven't won anything since the Coca-Cola Cup when I was there in 1995. I remember getting on the open-top bus afterwards. The rain was absolutely tanking down, but thousands of people still turned out to see us.

I have always said we need the likes of Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibs to be strong if we are to have a vibrant football culture in this country. A new training ground and stadium should have been two vital pieces in the jigsaw that would allow Aberdeen to progress.

NO matter who they support, every Scottish football fan should be truly thankful for Celtic's 2-0 Champions League win against Helsingborgs.

It was exactly the tonic our game needed. Their players handled the pressure really well, because there was plenty of expectation on their shoulders. The job isn't quite done yet, but I am sure they will finish it off successfully at home on Wednesday.

I would have loved Motherwell and Hearts to have proved me wrong by looking like they are heading for places in the Europa League group stage, but their matches panned out the way I expected.

Both recorded respectable results, though, because Levante are a top side and Liverpool's fringe players are no doubt individually better than those in Hearts' first team.

But we need some positives in our football and Celtic's result in Sweden was certainly one.

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