Highland League secretary Rod Houston hopes this weekend’s experiment with streaming games online goes well.
With fans still unable to attend matches the Highland League has taken the bold step of completing last season’s Highland League Cup behind closed doors.
The semi-finals – Formartine United v Rothes on Saturday and Brora Rangers v Buckie Thistle on Sunday – will both be streamed online for supporters to watch on a pay-per-view basis, as will next weekend’s final.
When it comes to judging the success of the venture in terms of the number of people who watch, Houston says the league has nothing to measure it against.
But he hopes this will allow them to explore how big the market is for watching Highland League games online.
Houston said: “The problem when it comes to judging the streaming is that we’ve nothing to judge it by.
“We could conjure up a number and say we want X amount of people to watch and if we get more that we’ll be delighted.
“But in reality it might not be anywhere near that either over or under the figure.
“We’ve nothing to measure it against, but this is the ideal opportunity to see the market and see what we might be able to do with the streaming.
“There is an experimental side to it with these fixtures.”
Not being afraid to innovate in challenging times is one of the great strengths of the Highland League, according to Houston.
It’s come to the fore again in recent months and he added: “I’m quite open in saying that personally I’m not the world’s most confident person with technology.
“I can use as much as I need to within my day-to-day.
“But when you see what is possible it’s absolutely mind boggling and I think is a whole new innovation for the Highland League.
“However, the Highland League has never been scared to try new things, that’s been one of the organisation’s abiding strengths.
“We hope everything both on and off the pitch goes smoothly this weekend.”
The start of the new season has been delayed until at least November 28 because fans are still unable to attend.
For Formartine, Rothes and Buckie this will be their first competitive outing since March, while Brora have played three League Cup group fixtures.
Houston admits ideally he would have preferred if all the sides could have had some competitive action before the weekend.
He said: “The games are well set-up we’ve got four of the top sides from last season involved so we think it the fixtures should be great adverts for the league.
“All the clubs are desperate to have a game. Ideally you’d like the club to have some competitive fixtures before a semi-final.
“Unfortunately with the unique circumstances this year that hasn’t been possible for three clubs, while Brora have had Betfred Cup games as part of their preparations.”