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Football: HUNGRY DONS MADE TO EAT HUMBLE PIE; Players told to buy their own food after Pittodrie chief takes toaster.

ANGRY Aberdeen players hit back at their scrooge bosses last night - after Pittodrie chief executive Gordon Bennett banned Dons stars from using the club toaster!

The former European Cup Winners' Cup winner are also making players pay for cups of tea and coffee as they battle to keep club finances in the black.

The first team returned from their summer holidays to find their toaster had been sacrificed as part of Bennett's spending purge.

Bennett has pulled the plug on all non-essential equipment to cut crippling electricity bills.

Dons staff will also have to pay for lunch from the Pittodrie canteen for the first time in the club's history.

News of the extreme cost-cutting measures will worry Dons fans still waiting for Ebbe Skovdahl's first summer signing.

Players are shocked such drastic action has been taken by a club with designs on being the third biggest club in Scotland.

A Pittodrie insider said: "What are they going to come up with next?

"A ban on half-time oranges? Or are the players going to have to take turns at washing the kits at home.

"There was a joke doing the rounds that Gordon Bennett went round last thing at night checking all the lights were turned out - it's probably true!"

But Bennett last night claimed the measures were necessary to stop the club going into liquidation.

He said: "The club lost pounds 1.8million in the six months leading up to last December.

"That's pounds 300,000-a-month and that couldn't be allowed to continue. We're now back in the black and there's no need to panic.

Tight

"But we'll have to run a very tight ship and continue to improve our situation.

Bennett pointed out that people in 'normal' jobs don't get free meals and snacks.

He added: "Some of the measures are affecting players and staff but the normal values in life must apply.

"Most of our fans pay for things in their workplace so employees at Pittodrie must be expected to do the same."

Bennett urged fans to continue giving the club their full support until new recruits arrive.

He said: "It is a question of keeping a fine balance and doing things in the right order.

"Investment in transfer fees and wages for new players should usually follow the departure of any players not considered by the manager to be central to his team-building plans.

"While it was clearly essential for the club to boost its squad last autumn the difficulty in off-loading surplus players speedily has put a strain on our finances.

"So it's important we continue the process of creating space to make room for new recruits, and just as important, creating opportunities to fast-track our own home-bred talent into senior football."

Meanwhile, the SFA are probing claims 600 Rangers supporters sat among Aberdeen fans during May's Scottish Cup final.

The investigation is focusing on two Glasgow firms, believed to have sold debenture tickets to Gers followers for the Hampden showpiece.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Ross, Kenny
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 5, 2000
Words:495
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