Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes has urged the SPFL and broadcasters to thrash out a deal to televise closed-door Premiership games.
With no income from gate receipts, McInnes insists something must be done to maximise the chance of generating finances when football finally emerges from the Covid-19 shutdown.
For McInnes, two factors are fundamental to that – broadcasting games to locked-out fans, and on-pitch action with an edge to keep supporters engaged.
The SPFL and SFA are set to meet with the Scottish government tomorrow to try to engineer a return to safe football.
They are targeting a resumption of training in small groups from June 10 when the shutdown of football officially ends, with a return to action in August.
The game has been suspended in Scotland since March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell recently claimed an August return is “definitely achievable”.
The new £150 million broadcast deal with Sky Sports begins on August 1 and McInnes wants clarity on how that will affect the transmission of closed-door matches.
With no supporters at games, McInnes has emphasised the importance of generating some form of income until fans are eventually allowed back.
He said: “We are all in the hands of the people running our game, the people running our country and the broadcasters.
“We need to know what the broadcasters want. I do not even know if they have been asked that yet.
“I feel really disappointed and angry that we haven’t made more progress.
“We are going to need to have the broadcasters involved in more meaningful conversations.
“We have to accept that we are going to have a period of time playing football behind closed doors.
“We have to try to look at that situation and look at the best practical way of allowing supporters of all clubs to see their team play.
“When we go back, to go from social distancing as we are now to all of a sudden being able to congregate in large numbers is just not going to happen.
“I think everyone accepts that.
“So we need that in-between stage to be as productive as possible.
“We all realise that if we are not going to get behind closed doors as an alternative then it will be away down the line before we get any sort of football played.
“When we go back, there will be restrictions in terms of when and how we get fans into the stadiums. In between that, though, we need to try to get some competitive and meaningful football that gives fans something to watch, even if it is only on television.”
The SFA and SPFL coronavirus joint response group was set up to plan a route back to football safely and as soon as possible, in line with Scottish Government and chief medical officer advice.
Six sub-groups were set up with Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack in the broadcasting and innovation group chaired by SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster.
That group has been tasked with exploring broadcast and content opportunities and online streaming, particularly in light of closed-doors games.
Pittodrie chairman Cormack recently admitted he fears there will be no games played in front of supporters in Scotland this year. When Scottish football first shut down in March, the US-based businessman warned Aberdeen would suffer a £5m financial black hole if there was no football until summer.
He also revealed the SPFL board’s decision to end the Premiership season early could cost the club another £1m.
McInnes said: “We have to find a way that still keeps players, officials and staff safe, which must be the priority. And hopefully also find a way to play closed-door football that would still allow that competitiveness.
“Where the importance is on results and the stimulation is still there for supporters to watch.
“If we are not going to get supporters through the doors at Pittodrie in the next few months, we have to generate money in whatever way.”