A rescue package to save Scottish football from the ongoing absence of fans must be delivered by the Scottish Government.
The glimmer of hope that fans could be phased back to grounds – offered by test events at Aberdeen and Ross County – has been snuffed out.
Now there is a real concern those 300 fans at Pittodrie and the Global Energy stadium on September 12 could be the only ones allowed inside stadiums before spring.
That is six long months for clubs without the income generated by supporters.
Another six months without fans could push some of the 42 clubs in the SPFL set-up – as well as at Highland League, Lowland League and junior levels – into the abyss.
Holyrood must step in now with a financial bailout to help these clubs or else they will go under. Obviously, with Covid-19 cases rising, there are more important concerns such as health and saving jobs.
However, it cannot be overlooked that football clubs are absolutely fundamental to the mental health and the economy of communities.
For many supporters, attending a game provides a vital link and connection with friends they would otherwise not see. It offers a valuable lifeline away from isolation.
Clubs generate jobs at the heart of the community that will also be under threat.
The SFA and SPFL Joint Response Group are working behind the scenes with Scottish Sports Minister Joe Fitzpatrick on a rescue package for the game in Scotland.
However, it is now seven months and counting since the pandemic shut down Scottish football on March 13.
Why is there still no concrete package in place to help clubs?
That should have been addressed long before now.
Some clubs were only able to survive due to the £50,000 share of the Covid-19 crisis grant made available by Edinburgh-based philanthropist James Anderson’s £3.125 million donation in June.
The Scottish Government have rightly stepped in to save the nation’s culture with a £12.5m Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund.
Twenty venues across Scotland received a total of £7.5m to help survive the absence of audiences for live events.
However, support is also needed to help clubs cope with the absence of fans.
It is the Scottish Government who are pushing back the phased return of supporters.
That stance is in response to rising Covid-19 cases in Scotland and increased lockdown restrictions.
But I still cannot fathom the logic that allows supporters to watch a live television broadcast in a bar, with strangers just one metre apart from them, indoors.
We discussed why, when bars and restaurants are open in Scotland, football grounds aren’t on this week’s Northern Goal podcast:
Yet they cannot watch a match with their family at a ground under strict social distancing guidelines and rigid safety policies from the clubs.
Holyrood must step up with financial aid to help stricken clubs survive the ongoing absence of fans.
Hoban has proven his worth for Aberdeen
Hopefully Aberdeen will move to tie up former Watford defender Tommie Hoban on an extended contract.
The 26-year-old is growing in stature with each passing game since joining the Dons on a deal until January.
Hoban has proven he is fundamental to Aberdeen playing with three at the back.
Reds boss Derek McInnes went with three at the back for the recent clash with Motherwell, with Hoban and Scott McKenna absent.
Hoban did not start because the Reds are trying to manage his game time after he recently returned from 18 months out following cruciate ligament surgery.
He had started in the 2-0 European defeat of Viking FK in Norway three days earlier.
McKenna was absent from the back line as the Scotland international was given permission to travel to England for talks with Nottingham Forest before sealing a £3m transfer.
The result was the loss of three quickfire goals.
Hoban came on at half time with the Dons trailing 3-0 to Motherwell and no more goals were conceded.
With Hoban in defence, Aberdeen have lost just one goal in his six starts and two substitute appearances.
That sole goal conceded was against Portuguese giants Sporting.
Hoban has proven his worth to the Dons. They should snap him up on a long-term deal before other teams start looking at the defender.
Motherwell midfielder is class act
It comes as no surprise that Motherwell midfielder Allan Campbell is on Aberdeen’s radar.
The 22-year-old has been superb for the Steelmen for the last 18 months and is a real talent.
Campbell was pivotal to Well defeating Aberdeen 3-0 at Pittodrie earlier this month.
He has relentless energy, fantastic positional awareness and is very versatile in midfield.
If Aberdeen can land Campbell for next season they would have three of the best rising midfielders in the Premiership. Ross McCrorie and Lewis Ferguson are class acts – and so is Campbell.