A statement released by Aberdeen on Monday afternoon painted a bleak picture for Scottish football by suggesting no fans will be allowed to attend matches until early next year [afc.co.uk].
The SPFL officially finished the 2019/20 Premiership season earlier in the day, declaring Celtic champions in a decision that has angered many Rangers supporters.
Ladbrokes Premiership and SPFL Season 2019/20 curtailed as Premiership clubs reach unanimous agreement that top flight cannot be finished.
— SPFL (@spfl) May 18, 2020
In response to that announcement, the Dons issued their own statement, penned by chairman Dave Cormack, updating fans on their current financial situation.
Issues like partial season ticket refunds and staff furloughs were addressed but the most dramatic section of the text featured a re-assessment of when supporters would likely return to Pittodrie.
“Two months ago our assumption was there would be no games in front of fans until September. It now looks likely that this will not be the case until early 2021.”
"The support we have had from the Red Army has been exceptional, particularly through the sale of 5,000 season tickets for 2020/21."
An update from @CormackDavie now that the SPFL has brought the 2019/20 season to an end.
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) May 18, 2020
That paints a bleak picture for Scottish football fans.
Dutch Health Minister, Hugo de Jonge, has already decreed that mass gatherings will not resume in the Netherlands until a vaccine is made readily available [Sky Sports] and this prediction from Aberdeen suggests that a similar approach may be on the cards in Scotland.
It’s remarkable to think that Rangers’ first-leg Europa League last 16 clash against Bayer Leverkusen at Ibrox in mid-March may prove to be the last fixture played out in front of fans for some ten months.
Not only is that troubling for supporters, many of whom are accustomed to framing their weekends around attending matchday, but it would also spell major financial worries for clubs.
It has been well documented that, in the absence of a bumper TV deal, teams throughout the SPFL pyramid are heavily reliant on ticket money.
Lower-league sides have already received their end of season payouts, while approximately £7 million is set to be released to Premiership clubs across the coming days.
Yet, that money won’t last forever. If turnstiles remain shut until 2021 – unless some innovative money-spinning solutions are dreamed up – it is very possible that a government bailout may be required to prevent clubs going under.