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Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack frustrated by lack of movement for fans to return

Aberdeen v Celtic – Scottish Premiership – Pittodrie Stadium
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack claims Scottish football fans are being treated “unfairly” following the rejection of the club’s application for more test events with the return of supporters.

The Dons had been hoping to bring fans back to Pittodrie safely but the Scottish Government has continued to tighten Covid-19 restrictions.

Given the developments in England which have seen a return of supporters in some stadiums, Cormack believes football in Scotland is being left in the wilderness.

“It’s now very clear that Scottish football and its fans are being treated unfairly with the rejection correspondence, once again, avoiding answering the key question as to why indoor events in Level 2, with less regulation, are being favoured over the stringent, safe and highly regulated protocols we have in place at our stadium,” Cormack said in a club statement.

“We have compared the criteria in place for a range of other venues, all of which are indoors and open in Level 2, against the stringent controls at our stadium.

“This stark comparison reveals that fans would be far safer in an outdoor stadium, yet we are still waiting, months later, for the Scottish Government to provide any clinical evidence to support their decision.

“Any independent observer would seriously struggle to understand why the Scottish Government continues to reject our carefully-researched and detailed application.

“Despite the devastating financial impact of the lock-out and, encouraged by (national clinical director) Jason Leitch, Scottish football clubs have invested considerable resources in robust operational planning to gradually readmit fans safely.

“At Aberdeen, we have spent around £30,000 on putting these in place.

“Jason Leitch himself told the SPFL and Premiership clubs that outdoor activities were safer than indoor activities yet our successful, safe test events with 300 fans now seem pointless if there is no progression plan in place, even in Level 1.

“We have repeatedly asked for clarification and meetings with him and ministers, yet our requests continue to be ignored. Surely, clubs and our fans are due an explanation as to why they’ve done a U-turn.”

Cormack added some 90 per cent of fans surveyed wanted a return to Pittodrie.

“We are committed to standing up for our fans and continue to push for their return to football to give them a bit of relief, joy and hope, many of whom live for football and who are consequently suffering from isolation, loneliness, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues,” he said.

“Yes, it costs to put on these games with limited crowds, but it’s well worth it for our fans.

“We’ve got our fans’ backs on this and we’re not going to be fobbed off easily.”

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster feels clubs are being left “increasingly bemused, frustrated and angry at the Scottish Government’s stance”.

Doncaster said: “Fans should gradually be allowed back under very controlled circumstances.

“The social, clinical and economic evidence is being dismissed by the Scottish Government.

“How can it be fair or reasonable that you can currently watch a football game in a cinema in Aberdeen, yet cannot attend a socially-distanced, carefully controlled football match outdoors in the same city?

“The fact that Scottish football fans can now see thousands of English supporters attending matches at dozens of grounds down south is rubbing salt in the wounds.”