For the first time in more than six months Aberdeen midfielder Lewis Ferguson will play in front of fans when facing Kilmarnock today.
Not since the 3-1 defeat of Hibs on March 7 have there been supporters inside Pittodrie.
Although today’s test event will be attended by only 300 season ticket-holders, who secured their place via a club, ballot Ferguson accepts it is a pivotal moment for Scottish football.
He hopes the Pittodrie pilot match and an identical number of fans at Ross County’s home game with Celtic will be the first step towards higher supporter numbers at Premiership games.
The 21-year-old said: “It won’t be what we’re used to, but it’s a bit better than having no-one, so I’m looking forward to it and hope it goes well.
“Hopefully we can get the three points for the fans who are there and it is just a matter of time before we can get more fans in.”
There may have been no fans at Aberdeen’s five games since the emergence from the football shutdown due to the pandemic, but Ferguson believes the Red Army, watching live broadcasts, have been there in spirit.
He said: “We can see on social media the interest and we know how many season ticket-holders and fans are watching the games.
“We know the support is there and cheering us on, but it’s obviously not the same to what we’ve been used to.
“It’s difficult not having fans at games, but that is something we’ve had to deal with because the aim is always to get three points. The sooner we get everyone back the better.”
The Scottish Government moved back the indicative date for fans to return to stadia from next Monday to October 5 following a recent increase of Covid-19 cases in the country.
Aberdeen hope that a successful test event today will result in 750 attending next Sunday’s home clash with Motherwell.
However, following the Scottish Government’s push back of the indicative date First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed future pilot games will be judged on a ‘case by case’ basis. Those 300 lucky enough to attend today’s game will be in the South Stand, will have to provide photographic ID, wear a face-mask throughout and must not shout or sing.
If – as Ferguson hopes – Aberdeen score, the Dons players will not over-celebrate as they also do their bit to ensure the successful running of the test event.
He said: “We’re not going to be doing anything daft or put anyone at risk.”
Ferguson experienced another factor of the new football normal amid a global pandemic when travelling to Lithuania with the Scotland Under-21s squad for Tuesday’s 1-0 Euro qualifying win.
Aberdeen team-mates Ross McCrorie, Dean Campbell and Connor McLennan were also in Scot Gemmill’s squad.
It was an insight into the new protocols of foreign travel for footballers, with Aberdeen set to face Viking FK in Norway in the Europa League second qualifying round next Thursday.
He said: “The trip wasn’t what we are used to due to the restrictions. We were in separate rooms, but the performance was good and we got the win.
“It wasn’t a pretty game, but we went with a game plan to get the ball in behind and put them under pressure as we knew one goal would win the game.
“There is a lot of experience in the squad with me, Ross and Allan Campbell. I don’t know how many first-team appearances there are between us, but it’s a lot.
“There are good young lads coming through too and there is quality all over the park.”
Aberdeen will today bid to secure a fifth straight victory with Ferguson pivotal in that resurgence in form, having scored in each of the last three games.
He said: “I have managed to get on the scoresheet a couple of times and the team have been winning, so I am happy.
“We didn’t have the best start to the season with everything that went on, but we managed to go on a nice wee run before the international break.
“We have also got through in Europe, so a lot is going well at the minute and confidence is high.
“We need to back those performances up with another run of games.”