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Steven Ferguson says Ross County are ready to welcome as many fans as possible back to Victoria Park for new season

Ross County chief executive Steven Ferguson.
Ross County chief executive Steven Ferguson.

Ross County chief executive Steven Ferguson is confident of welcoming at least 1,000 fans to Victoria Park come the start of the new season.

Although the majority of last season was played behind closed doors, County were permitted to stage five home matches as test events with crowds of 300, the last of which came on December 19.

The current level one restrictions advise outdoor events operate with a maximum capacity of 1,000, which rises to 2,000 at level zero.

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster says has been encouraged by the progress being made in allowing fans to return to grounds, and is seeking more clarification ahead of the new campaign.

County play two Premier Sports Cup matches in Dingwall next month, against Dundee on July 18 and Montrose on July 24, prior to their first league match at home to St Johnstone on July 31.

Ferguson is hopeful the Staggies will be allowed to significantly increase their capacity come the start of competitive action.

He said: “We were lucky enough to have five games with fans last season, the frustration being that we weren’t able to continue that more consistently to the end of the season, but we had to be mindful of the pandemic.

Ross County’s game against Celtic in September was the first of five test events at Victoria Park with crowds last season.

“We are prepared, we tested different models last season and each game was really successful in its own right. We just want to see more fans coming through the turnstiles now.

“The most important thing for Ross County right now is ensuring we get as many fans as possible back into the Global Energy Stadium.

“We are being told 1,000 fans minimum, but we will be looking for more than that come the first game. We want to get the buzz back in the stadium and see the faces that have helped this club get to where it is today.”

County have been handed a difficult start to the new league campaign, with the visit of cup double-winning Saints followed by games against Hibernian, Rangers, Aberdeen and Celtic.

Ferguson insists the Staggies will relish the challenge under new manager Malky Mackay, as they begin their third successive campaign in the top-flight.

Malky Mackay.

He added: “When you look at our opening fixtures, to be playing five of last season’s top six in our opening matches is really exciting. This is why we want to be in the Premiership, to play against the best week in and week out.

“It’s important that the Highlands has Premiership football, we have spent nine of the last 10 seasons in the Premiership bringing Rangers, Celtic, Hearts, Hibs, Aberdeen and many more clubs to the Highlands.

“There are teams that will wish they were in our position, but we are here and we will always work as hard as possible to keep the club here.”

Ferguson, who became chief executive last summer following a successful spell as co-manager alongside Stuart Kettlewell, believes last season was the most difficult he has faced amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Steven Ferguson celebrates Ross County’s Championship title triumph with fans in 2019.

The Staggies have launched season tickets for the new campaign, with incentives allowing fans to spread the cost of the ticket, as well as allowing Staggies Army kids members to claim free season tickets.

Ferguson says the club is intent on repaying the loyalty shown by supporters during the challenging time, adding: “There is no doubt in my eyes that season 2020/21 was probably the hardest season in the history of the game.

“For me, having been a manager, the fans can actually be worth points on the board.

“They can be the difference in players’ reactions, the reactions of opponents and a huge part in driving the team forward.

“Our view is that we saw an unbelievable commitment from fans last season – in terms of purchasing season tickets and Staggies Army memberships during a financially challenging time.

“This season we will hopefully have the ability to welcome them and thank them when they return to our stadium.”

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