Peterhead say they are prepared for fans to return to Balmoor Stadium when given the chance.
Aberdeenshire remaining in Tier 2 of Scotland’s coronavirus restrictions system means supporters are currently unable to attend Blue Toon fixtures.
However, when fans are able to return to Balmoor, Peterhead say they have the processes in place to safely accommodate them.
Peterhead have calculated they could safely admit 272 fans and have installed barriers in the standing sections of the stadium to ensure social distancing is observed.
Club general manager Martin Johnston said: “We’re ready to let fans in. Our argument is that we can prove we can safely do it now, so why couldn’t we have fans in just now?
“You’d be less safe going to your local supermarket. We can have 272 fans observing all the social distancing guidelines and you can go to a supermarket and you won’t find the same level of restrictions.
“So we would argue coming to watch Peterhead would be safer than going to your local supermarket.
“We’ve installed crowd barriers to test out how many people we could allow in while allowing for social distancing.
“So we can accommodate a capacity of 272 within the stadium, with 126 seated and the remainder standing.
“We did hope that we might have been able to get a higher number, but when you sit down and work it out that’s the number we can manage.
“We appreciate there is still uncertainty as to when we can get fans back in.
“But we are prepared for when we may get the chance and we’re now in the process of how we put together our operating plan.”
With Moray and the Highlands in Tier 1 Ross County, Inverness Caley Thistle, Elgin City and 10 Highland League clubs have been able to let some fans in again.
Johnston attended the Staggies’ game with Livingston on November 4 when they were able to allow 300 supporters into Victoria Park and picked the brains of County chief executive Steven Ferguson.
He added: “Ross County were really helpful. I was was at their game against Livingston and was able to observe how they did it.
“All the supporters attending get told what time to turn up so the staff can get them in easily safely and, when it comes to exiting the stadium, it has to be done in sections so everyone can leave the stadium safely.
“Steven Ferguson at Ross County was really helpful and he explained all their processes to us and the ideas of getting people in and out of the ground safely.
“We also saw Elgin City getting fans back last weekend and some of the graphics they produced to communicate the procedure to the fans were great.
“Sometimes that can be the hardest bit is explaining everything to the fans, but some of the graphics Elgin produced were really good and we’d look to do something similar.
“So it has encouraged us seeing what other clubs have been able to do.”
Peterhead’s average attendance last season was 640 so although only being able to admit 272 fans – which would include all their season ticket holders – and without any matchday hospitality would generate significantly less revenue than pre-pandemic levels, it would still be useful income for the Blue Toon.
Johnston said: “We have 126 season ticket holders so they would be 126 of those 272.
“They have already paid their money for the season and that wouldn’t generate any more income on a Saturday, but it’s important to be able to get them in and then have fans standing in the ground as well and paying to get in.
“That gives scope for another 146 people on top of the season ticket holders at £14 a head.
“It would be a drop in the ocean to what we normally take in on a Saturday, but it would be really helpful to the club in the current climate.”