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Football clubs need ‘clear plan’ for return of fans

The warning comes from Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack as they announced operating loss of £2.92m.

Football clubs need ‘clear plan’ for return of fans SNS Group

Scottish football clubs need a “clear plan” for the return of fans as they look to prevent further losses caused by coronavirus, Aberdeen’s chairman has said.

The Pittodrie club have announced an operating loss of £2.92m for the year ending June 30 and said they are “facing further financial pain” because of the continued uncertainty surrounding when fans can return to stadiums.

Annual accounts showed the Premiership club’s turnover dropped from near £16m to £14.3m, with turnover expected to drop to £10m in the current financial year.

Dave Cormack said the club had initially planned for an operating loss of around £2m in the accounts, which were published on Friday.

He said: “The unforeseen but devastating impact of the coronavirus crisis on the latter part of the 2019/20 season increased that planned loss to £2.9m with projections for the current financial year showing an even more significant loss of £5m due to the effect of Covid‐19 on the full season.”

Without fans returning this season, the club said it faces losing £5m of revenues from matchday gate receipts, hospitality, advertising, sponsorship and retail – a situation called “unsustainable” by Cormack.

He added: “We are sustaining losses for every home game we play without fans and may be forced to take further, painful measures to ensure the club’s future.”

This remains the situation despite investment, wage deferrals and the sale of Scott McKenna to Nottingham Forest for a club-record fee.

Cormack added: “The knock‐on impact of no clear plan for the return of fans to our national sport as we enter the second half of this season will be catastrophic for many Scottish clubs as they look to generate significant cash from season ticket sales for next season, starting in March 2021.”

He said urgent action is needed to address the funding gap caused by Covid.

“The only way to do this is by getting fans back into Pittodrie safely, sooner rather than later, so that we can plan for critical matchday income and cash from season ticket sales,” Cormack said.

“We are doing everything asked of us by the Scottish Government and the footballing authorities. We had a very successful test game with 300 fans, where we demonstrated we could easily have accommodated significantly more, safely.

“Scottish clubs and our footballing authorities must have urgent, constructive and meaningful discussions with government that acknowledge our socio‐economic impact, recognise our plight and deliver a clear plan and roadmap towards a return of fans.”