Aberdeen and Sunderland have reached an agreement over compensation for manager Derek McInnes.
The English Championship club can now begin negotiations with McInnes over their vacant managerial position.
But Aberdeen’s new major shareholder Dave Cormack says the club will “move heaven and earth” to keep McInnes at Pittodrie.
“Derek is extremely happy here. It’s not just down to money. He’s a very astute individual.”
Sunderland have identified the 45-year-old as a potential successor to David Moyes, who left the Stadium of Light following the club’s relegation last season.
Aberdeen want McInnes to stay, and Cormack initially told BBC Scotland that Sunderland had not met the compensation terms. However the Pittodrie club have now allowed McInnes to speak to the Black Cats.
Cormack sold his software company for £630m last year and the former Pittodrie chief executive has returned to the club as a non-executive director.
He says McInnes, who guided Aberdeen to second place in the Scottish Premiership last term and saw his side beaten by Celtic in the Scottish Cup and League Cup finals, has not indicated any desire to leave Pittodrie.
“Derek is extremely happy here,” Cormack said. “Talking to the chairman [Stewart Milne], his family are very happy here. We are 100% focused on getting ready for next season.
“We’re only 10-12 days away from the players coming back. And so it’s not a great position to be in.”
Cormack says his corporate experience has taught him that retaining employees against their will is unwise and unproductive.
“Keep Sunderland and Derek aside for one minute – I know through bitter experience, trying to keep any employee with my companies, forcing somebody to stay doesn’t work for anyone,” Cormack added.
“I’ve had the opportunity to chat with him a couple of weeks ago, and he takes a holistic approach to a football club – he doesn’t just think of the football operation and event the sports science, he thinks of the marketing, the communication with supporters, the off-field stuff, and that’s a rarity.
“We would do our utmost – if he wanted to consider [Sunderland’s approach] – to pull out all the stops to keep him.”
‘Pittodrie is not fit for purpose’
Cormack will not disclose how much he is to invest in Aberdeen, but says the figure is “several million”.
He is eager to harness his American business connections to generate further investment into the club, and insists the proposed move to a new £50m stadium is vital to achieve that aim.
“Moving to a new stadium is crucial,” Cormack said. “One of my remits is going to be looking for partnerships and investments in the States.
“There are a lot of people there that love to be involved in sports clubs in the UK. Many of these Americans are golfers, and we have a lot to offer here in Scotland and the Aberdeen area.
“If we’re going to attract investment, though, they’ll look at it as investment, and Pittodrie just doesn’t stack up. We all love Pittodrie, but it’s not fit for purpose. By that, I mean there’s only a small footprint that’s here, there’s only so much we can do.
“From a commercial standpoint, from a corporate perspective, the stadium is 100-plus years old. The new stadium is certainly necessary for us to kick on and bring in other investment.”