Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack admits the Dons’ future recruitment plans will be affected the longer fans are kept out of Scottish football grounds.
The Dons chief has urged the Scottish Government to outline a timetable for getting supporters back through the turnstiles after a proposal to welcome 1,000 fans to Sunday’s league match against Celtic was rejected.
The Dons successfully staged a test event in September when 300 fans were allowed into Pittodrie to watch them beat Kilmarnock 1-0.
But Cormack is growing increasingly concerned by the uncertainty over when supporters will be able to return to games on a regular basis and the potential ramifications for Scottish football.
He said: “We are not asking for carte blanche to have up to 5,000 fans in every game for next six months.
“Obviously a test is a test and needs to be put into context with the Covid situation in different parts of Scotland.
“We are appealing to find out under what circumstances we can get people in. There are less regulated choices being made by the government over football.
“We were told categorically at the outset of this by (national clinical director) Jason Leitch that an outdoor, fresh air environment such as a stadium was more palatable than all the indoor events that are being allowed today.
“That confuses people. As clubs in Scotland we employ thousands of people and we don’t have the TV money that England has.
“Forty per cent of our income comes from fans coming through the gates.
“As much as it was rejected for this weekend, they told us that what we did for the Kilmarnock game, as well as the other games we have staged without fans, that we had gone above and beyond.”
The Aberdeen players agreed a wage deferral earlier this year when the financial ramifications of a prolonged shutdown became clear and Cormack is desperate to avoid having to take more drastic action.
He said: “In April, we asked for a deferment from staff and that will be paid back in May next year.
“There is a reason why Rangers kindly agreed to take the money for Ross McCrorie after that as we have an agreement with the players that we will not go out there and spend money on transfer fees until they are paid back their deferments.
“We have about £1m in savings from across the club. Our goal was to not make anybody redundant as a result of Covid.
“I know many other clubs have made dozens of people redundant.
“We have said we are doing these deferments to keep the small guy employed, for want of a better term.
“There are no redundancies at Aberdeen so far. We have been able to cope with that.
“We plan ahead and try to get succession planning in place. Last summer we brought in a whole bunch of new players as I sat down with Derek McInnes and we were sick and tired of having eight or nine players out of contract each year.
“It is expensive to do it, but we planned ahead and had significant signings last summer and in the January window and in this window.
“We have a whole bunch of players out of contract next summer and that is one of the reasons why we want to get ahead with the government to get some sort of sense of where this is all heading.
“We understand a plan can change. The last thing we want to do is have to go back to the players, but it could absolutely affect us next summer in the transfer market.”
When asked about the impact the ban on supporters is having on the Dons, he said: “I have been at pains to point out that it is £1m per month.
“The last projection that we came up with had shown that we had got the £10m hole down to about £3.8m.
“That was based on fans being back in the stadiums in January.
“We have sold Scott McKenna (for £3m to Nottingham Forest), but we could still lose another £2m to £2.5m between January and the end of the season if there are no fans back in stadiums.
“It is a case of marching up and down the hill with those numbers.
“That is a real challenge from our perspective.
“One of the questions that I have seen come up regularly is people asking why we are adding players and, for example, buying Ross McCrorie, although we don’t pay for that until next year.
“The simple answer is this, Aberdeen doesn’t budget to be 12th in the league each year.
“Our aspirations are high and we plan to get to Europe every year and to the latter stages of the cups.
“Generally that is worth £2m to £2.5m in prize money.
“If I take £1m out of the football budget and become less competitive then I may be cutting my nose off to spite my face because I lose £2.5m in prize money.
“That is the dilemma every club has.
“With the backing of all of our employees, we have kept the investment in the football product as high as it can be.”