Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes hopeful some fans will attend games
Aberdeen boss also praises Jonny Hayes' goodwill gesture that paved the way for player's return
By Matt Ford
Last Updated: 25/06/20 2:09pm
Derek McInnes is hopeful a small percentage of fans will be allowed to attend matches when the new Scottish football season begins in August, but says Aberdeen are not expecting to have full crowds back until January 2021.
However, McInnes remains optimistic that, as the situation is rapidly changing, further alterations to social distancing could yet permit some supporters to attend matches when the 2020-21 season kicks off.
"It is ongoing and it is ever-changing, we are planning for not having full crowds back in until January (2021) but that may well change," McInnes told Sky Sports News.
"A fraction or a percentage of supporters being allowed in I think is a real possibility. I think it is all dependent on what is happening in society.
"The fact of the matter is, we have got some dates now to look forward to in the calendar.
"We have got the fixtures coming out next week, we have got the first game of the season (on) 1 August still looking likely, we have got the 10 August European draw and the 27 August Europa League game.
"If we take ourselves back three or four weeks ago, we would have taken that. The only uncertainty now is when we can get crowds back in and when we can start being really competitive again."
Small contact group training has been allowed in Scotland although the likes of Rangers boss Steven Gerrard have recently expressed frustration that full contact, close-quarter training is still prohibited.
McInnes is pleased to be back and outlined Aberdeen have "four or five friendlies" in the pipeline to help them get up to speed in time for the planned start on August 1.
He concedes that one obstacle the players will have to overcome is how to generate the same competitive feeling, as he pointed out five months would have elapsed between Aberdeen's last game against Hibernian.
But he will have at least one new recruit to call upon after Jonny Hayes returned to Pittodrie three years after leaving for Celtic.
Hayes - recognising the squeeze on Aberdeen's budget - agreed to defer his wages for 12 months to ensure the move went through, a selfless act that McInnes has lauded.
"What became clear with the situation we face ourselves, we were not in a position to offer Jonny (Hayes) anything and while we would have love to made an offer to him and sign him, we just could not do it financially," McInnes said.
"It is very unusual, I think it shows his eagerness to come here. It's a brilliant gesture. Once Jonny made that, all of a sudden it became a real possibility. Both him and his agent deserve a lot of credit, and the club.
"I still see the same speed, the same athleticism in him, the same ability. He has played his part in winning trophies at Celtic Park, so I think we are getting the same player but with more experience and hopefully a better player all round."