Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes insists it is vital the Dons pass their test with flying colours after the club was chosen as a test venue for a match in front of a limited audience.
Just 300 Dons fans will be allowed inside Pittodrie for Saturday’s game against Kilmarnock with Victoria Park, home of Ross County, the other venue chosen. The Staggies host champions Celtic on Saturday.
McInnes knows the importance of showing the football authorities and the Scottish Government that fans can be accommodated back inside a stadium safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “We were given a bit of encouragement but until the announcement was made there was always that doubt.
“We’re delighted we’ll have some fans back in the ground on Saturday though. It’s a step in the right direction and a reward for some fans that they will be able to come to the game.
“We have to remember though that this is only a test event but it is a test we have to do as well as we possibly can in. The same applies to Ross County.
“We’re both looking to show we can accommodate fans safely so that we can open up opportunities for fans across the country to get back to watching their team.”
It has been six months since fans last attended a game in Scotland and the Dons boss says their absence has been keenly felt around the country.
He said: “We’ve tried all we can to replicate the build-up by playing sound inside the stadium during the warm-up but there is no hiding the fact once that whistle blows the players are on their own out there.
“It’s when you look back at clips and photos of goals from past seasons and you see the players celebrating with the fans that it really resonates just what we’ve been missing.
“The players have become used to the environment of fans not being there which is a shame in many respects but hopefully Saturday can be a step towards bringing them back.”
The Dons will allocate the 300 seats available in the South Stand via a ballot which is open to the first 7,500 season ticket holders who purchased their tickets before July 10. Fans have until 5pm today to register their entry in the ballot and those who have been successful in gaining admission to Saturday’s game will be notified by the club tomorrow.
McInnes added: “Goodness knows how the club is going to sort it out but I’m just relieved that it’s not my job.
“For those who are lucky enough to come I know it will be a reward for their patience, perseverance and support for the club during what has been a really difficult time and it is a step towards what we all want to see in big crowds back cheering on their team.”