Manager Derek McInnes is grateful Aberdeen are finally back playing again and working towards a confirmed Premiership return date.
He admits to inital concerns as Scottish football was gripped by uncertainty that the SPFL’s targeted August 1 return for the top flight could be achieved.
However, last Friday that target became reality when the SPFL and SFA Joint Response Group received written approval from the Scottish Government for the top flight kick-off on August 1.
Aberdeen will host Rangers in the season curtain-raiser at Pittodrie (5.30pm) that day in a behind-closed-doors match broadcast live on Sky Sports.
Holyrood also on Friday gave the go-ahead for Premiership clubs to participate in bounce games at training grounds and stadia with immediate effect.
The day after Scottish top-flight clubs received the green light for friendlies, the Reds drew 2-2 with Ross County at Cormack Park in the club’s first game time for 120 days.
It was the latest step forward in the Scottish top flight’s return from the coronavirus shutdown.
McInnes said: “I am grateful we actually have the chance to be up and running in August.
“It wasn’t so long ago that was very dubious.
“We have to remind ourselves of just where we were a few weeks ago with all the uncertainty.
“Obviously next season will be far from the norm in terms of the crowds.
“Whilst that is not ideal, we will just have to see how that is going to play out.”
The confirmation of the Premiership return and go-ahead for bounce games came in light of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement on phase three of the government’s route map out of the Covid-19 crisis.
Initially matches will be behind closed doors, but Aberdeen hope to have as many as 7,500 fans inside Pittodrie in October if the government’s lessening of Covid-19 restrictions allows.
However, the First Minister and National Clinical Director Professor Jason Leitch recently urged caution on a phased return of supporters in October.
With more than 7,000 season tickets sold for the new campaign McInnes hopes to see the Red Army back at Pittodrie soon.
He said: “Hopefully with the way things have managed to progress we can start to get part crowds in soon.
“Then we can get back to anyone who wants to get back into the ground can be there.”
Aberdeen’s pre-season training suffered a setback when a player tested positive for Covid-19 at the end of last month during twice-weekly tests.
However, the unnamed player, who was asymptomatic and immediately went into self isolation, subsequently had three negative tests.
That allowed a graded return to training last week, albeit in isolation from the squad. The player is set to return to training with team-mates this week.
Aberdeen’s pre-season preparations ramped up at the weekend with the bounce game draw with Ross County.
That friendly marked the first appearance of winger Jonny Hayes, who signed a two-year deal following his exit from Celtic.
The deal to land the 33-year-old was only made possible because the Republic of Ireland international offered to defer his wages for a year.
Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack has illustrated the financial plight of the club, confirming projected losses of £10m due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Due to that financial hit, McInnes is currently not in a position to add to the squad.
Cormack is this week expected to unveil the club’s plan to navigate through the pandemic.
The imminent Premiership return and hope of a phased return of fans at least offers light at the end of the tunnel.
McInnes is mindful of just how long his squad have been away.
He said: “From that Hibs game (3-1 win, March 7) to the start of the season against Rangers, it will be the best part of five months.
“That is a long time, probably the longest any squad has had that gap from competitive football. It is what it is and we have to make sure we are all ready.”