Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack admits the Dons are facing serious financial challenges the longer fans are kept out of Scottish football grounds.
Cormack revealed earlier this week the Dons’ bid to accommodate 1,000 supporters at this Sunday’s match against Celtic was rejected by the Scottish Government, who have ruled out test events while coronavirus cases are increasing across the country.
Aberdeen staged a successful pilot event in September when 300 fans were allowed into Pittodrie to watch the Dons beat Kilmarnock 1-0.
The Dons chairman has urged the Scottish Government to outline a plan for when supporters will be able to return before the uncertainty causes further damage to the game.
When asked about the impact the ban on supporters is having on the Dons, he said: “I have been at pains to point out that it is £1 million per month.
“The last projection that we came up with had shown that we had got the £10m hole down to about £3.8m.
“That was based on fans being back in the stadiums in January.
“We have sold Scott McKenna (for £3m to Nottingham Forest), but we could still lose another £2m to £2.5m between January and the end of the season if there are no fans back in stadiums.
“It is a case of marching up and down the hill with those numbers.
“That is a real challenge from our perspective.
“One of the questions that I have seen come up regularly is people asking why we are adding players and, for example, buying Ross McCrorie, although we don’t pay for that until next year.
“The simple answer is this, Aberdeen doesn’t budget to be 12th in the league each year.
“Our aspirations are high and we plan to get to Europe every year and to the latter stages of the cups.
“Generally that is worth £2m to £2.5m in prize money.
“If I take £1m out of the football budget and become less competitive then I may be cutting my nose off to spite my face because I lose £2.5m in prize money.
“That is the dilemma every club has.
“With the backing of all of our employees, we have kept the investment in the football product as high as it can be.”
The Aberdeen players agreed a wage deferral earlier this year when the financial ramifications of a prolonged shutdown became clear and Cormack is desperate to avoid having to take more drastic action.
He said: “In April we asked for a deferment from staff and that will be paid back in May next year.
“There is a reason why Rangers kindly agreed to take the money for Ross McCrorie after that as we have an agreement with the players that we will not go out there and spend money on transfer fees until they are paid back their deferments.
“We have about £1m in savings from across the club. Our goal was to not make anybody redundant as a result of Covid.
“I know many other clubs have made dozens of people redundant.
“We have said we are doing these deferments to keep the small guy employed, for want of a better term.
“There are no redundancies at Aberdeen so far. We have been able to cope with that.
“We plan ahead and try to get succession planning in place. Last summer we brought in a whole bunch of new players as I sat down with Derek McInnes and we were sick and tired of having eight or nine players out of contract each year.
“It is expensive to do it but we planned ahead and had significant signings last summer and in the January window and in this window.
“We have a whole bunch of players out of contract next summer and that is one of the reasons why we want to get ahead with the government to get some sort of sense of where this is all heading. We understand a plan can change. The last thing we want to do is have to go back to the players but it could absolutely affect us next summer in the transfer market.”
Cormack says it is important for Scottish clubs to maintain a united front as they campaign to get fans back through the turnstiles.
He said: “I think all of the clubs are together on this.
“At the end of the day it doesn’t do Scottish football any good if a number of clubs go under.
“I feel there is a togetherness and we just have to hope the folks who represent us at government level can come up with some sort of plan because it is important to give people hope.
“When I looked at how we executed the test event, we could have had 3,000 people at that game.
“Thousands of people come into Aberdeen city centre at the weekend and they are sensible about getting in there with public transport.
“Why couldn’t we have 3,000 people at Pittodrie?
“We had 300 people at Pittodrie and we didn’t have one Covid case.
“This is jocular to some extent, but I have a 90-year-old mother-in-law and an 89-year-old uncle who both go to Pittodrie.
“They are being told they can’t have any family members visit their home, but they can go to a pub or a restaurant, which they don’t want to do in case they catch Covid.
“But they can go trampolining indoors in Aberdeen and, as much as they are fit people, their trampolining days have gone by.
“They want to go to Pittodrie in the fresh air and watch the game.
“They don’t want to go to the pub, a restaurant or trampolining.”