ABERDEEN players were finding it difficult to swallow last night after the cash-strapped football club's decision to confiscate their dressing room toaster and start charging for their morning cuppa.

Whether they were as sick as the proverbial parrot, or simply choking at the prospect of having to cough up for their tea and toast, was impossible to tell, as players remained tight-lipped about the enterprising steps to reduce overheads.

But the club's chief executive, Gordon Bennett, was unrepentant and insisted that the club needs to tighten up its act, a sentiment most supporters would readily endorse.

The slice of behind-the-scenes action at Pittodrie has nevertheless left players and executives with faces as red as their jerseys and immediately reignited all the old jokes about the canny Dons.

Mr Bennett insisted the measures were necessary to stabilise the financial situation at the club.

''We have to run within our means or end up in liquidation,'' he warned.

''The club lost #1.8m in the six months leading up to December. That's #300,000 a month and that couldn't be allowed to continue.

''We are now in the black at the bank. Our position has been stabilised so there is no need for any panic. But we will have to run a very tight ship to continue to improve our situation.''

Promoting equality for all, the chief executive admitted such desperate measures would affect players but insisted they should face the ''same values in life'' as their fans.

''Most of our fans have to pay for certain things at their workplace, so the employees at Pittodrie must be expected to do the same,'' he said.

''Some of the measures are affecting the players and other staff, but the normal values in life must apply at Pittodrie.''

Lacking the financial resources of the Old Firm, the chief executive also said manager Ebbe Skovdahl would have to shop in the bargain basement in preparation for the new season.

''There is no real money in Scottish football at the moment so we have to live within what means we have here,'' he said. ''We will have to be prudent when it comes to making any future signings: our financial situation dictates they will have to be Bosman free transfers who have reasonable wage requirements.''

It is a measure reminiscent of the late and legendary chairman Dick Donald, whose shrewd husbandry of the club's resources stretched from refusing manager Alex Ferguson's leaping into the transfer market, to insisting a player carried out his own repairs to a dressing-room door which had taken the brunt of his frustrated left boot.