Aberdeen chairman, Dave Cormack has today urged the Scottish Government in consultation with Scottish footballing authorities for a clear plan on the return of supporters to Pittodrie.
The Club had asked the SPFL last week to resume test events, with the match against Celtic on 25 October. However, The Scottish Governement’s response was they are not actively considering pilot events given the national outlook and current restriction in place across Scotland – however they hoped to move quickly at the appropriate point.
Clearly frustrated at the response, Dave Cormack took to Twitter late last night and issued the following statement through the club website this afternoon.
He said: “We’re only asking for a timeline towards resuming test events – we’re not seeking anything that would not comply with the current restrictions or take account of the current COVID situation. Our first test represented only 1.5% of the stadium capacity and all we are asking is to increase that to 10%.”
“At the outset of the pandemic Professor Jason Leitch told a meeting of all premiership clubs that having fans in stadiums outdoors, in the fresh air, was much more palatable than indoor events.
“It’s therefore with growing frustration that we are forced to sit back and watch the discrepancies which allow passengers on full flights with no social distancing, people participating in indoor activities, such as going to the cinema, or the new restrictions on alcohol in licensed premises which are inadvertently pushing people into unregulated and unauthorised gatherings in homes.
“Meanwhile, watching football outdoors, in a regulated environment, on a game-by-game test basis, is in limbo after only two successful tests.
“Since running our test event back in September which demonstrated that, with our rigorous protocols and procedures in place, we could safely accommodate significantly larger crowds, we’ve heard nothing concrete about steps towards getting fans safely back to football.
“With no visibility or certainty around the return of even partial crowds we, like other clubs, are facing major financial and operational challenges. Indeed, the consequences for our Club and for Scottish football are dire.
“Whilst we fully accept that public health is the priority, compared to other less regulated choices, football has clearly demonstrated that we can welcome back outdoor partial crowds in a safe and highly regulated manner.”
AFC has received the backing of Aberdeen City Council in its bid to run further test events, starting with 1,000 fans, with a view to increasing numbers to 1,500 and then 2,000.
Cormack added: “The council, which recognises the economic contribution of the Club and its impact on jobs and well-being, is fully supportive of a game-by-game test approach to getting fans back into the city centre and Pittodrie.
“They are confident in our approach to the safety of our fans in getting to, from and into the stadium. They are also cognisant of the fact that the longer this goes on, the worse it will be for the Club and everyone who relies on it, including the AFC Community Trust whose educational activities are also jeopardised by our current inability to generate revenues.”
But Cormack stressed that it wasn’t just about the money, saying that it was also important for the mental health and well-being of fans, many of whom are also seeking a clear plan for their return.
Jenny Laing Co-Leader Aberdeen City Council said “Football is our national sport and fans throughout Aberdeen want to get back and support the Dons. We fully back Aberdeen Football Club in their call for the Scottish Government to resume test events. Pittodrie holds in excess of 20,000 and provided Aberdeen Football Club agrees to the necessary public health checks, then the Scottish Government should allow the club to move forward with allowing a small number of fans into the stadium.
Douglas Lumsden Co-Leader Aberdeen City Council added: “With rigorous protocols and procedures in place the Scottish Government should provide AFC with the opportunity to demonstrate that Football can be played in front of spectators despite Covid-19 restrictions. I fully understand the importance of public health, but if we are to live with this virus then we must at some point try and get back to normality.”
Supported by Aberdeen City Council we applied for a second test event versus Celtic to include 1,000 fans, just 5% capacity, out in the open fresh air. Got a polite "no" from @scotgov @jasonleitch stating our first test was a success & latest plan was robust & in excellent shape.
— Dave Cormack (@CormackDavie) October 18, 2020
3/ We plan to share these robust test regulations with our fans later this week. Not one single positive case has emerged from the 300 who attended our first test. We are NOT asking for carte blanche… these are "Test Events"… NOT a commitment for multiple games!
— Dave Cormack (@CormackDavie) October 18, 2020