Cove Rangers will have a national audience on Saturday afternoon but it was the lack of one in the stadium Keith Moorhouse is more concerned about.
For the first time in their history, Cove will have a televised home game at the Balmoral Stadium, with Premiership high-fliers Hibernian heading to the Granite City.
It should be a momentous day for the club, who after back-to-back promotions are preparing to get their League One campaign underway.
But the continued absence of supporters from grounds is a matter that concerns Moorhouse, the Cove chairman, greatly.
Up and down the land club chiefs will be worriedly watching bank balances drop away, as the turnstiles stay closed. There appears to be little movement in that changing any time soon.
Moorhouse said: “I must be honest, I can’t get away from the fact there’ll be no fans at the game. It saddens me. Our fans have had a major impact on the club’s progression and success over the last few years. The fact they’re not there on Saturday to be part of it takes a fair bit of the shine off it.
“Being on TV is great for the club. But it doesn’t take away that I probably feel more towards the fact we’ve not got fans, than I am excited about the TV stuff.”
The rise in cases across Scotland has prompted the Scottish Government to press the pause button on fans returning to stadia. An indicative date of October 5 had been given, with two successful test events of 300 fans, at Ross County and Aberdeen, seemingly amounting to nothing in the bigger picture.
In ordinary circumstances, Cove would likely have got a bumper crowd for this weekend’s game. They got close to 2,000 fans in for the Berwick Rangers play-off game last year and a strong Hibees travelling support would likely have helped eclipse that.
Cove are launching their own club channel, CRFCTV, to try reach out to supporters while they are kept away from grounds. But the ongoing financial concern of empty stadiums is leaving no-one immune.
Moorhouse added: “We’re on version 14 of the budget and we’ve not kicked a ball yet. They will continue to change based on decisions made by the Scottish FA, Joint Response Group and the Scottish Government. We’ve got to make sure we’re on top of things and be in as good a position as we can be financially.
“My responsibility is to make sure the club is on a sound footing, as strong a position as it can be. Without a doubt, that becomes more challenging. Take a restaurant – a restaurant without people coming into eat is not going to be around long, is it? We’re not any different to that.
“You’re starting to see it now (people speaking up). Something has got to happen, otherwise as an industry it’ll be gone. It’s not just a doomsday scenario, it’s a reality. Every business needs income to feed its costs. We’re running at full costs with no income. Every other club is the same. Something has to give.
“I think there’s been a change in tone from the football authorities. We’ve just got to hope these voices are listened to, or we’re all going to be forced to make decisions we don’t want to make to protect the longevity of the club.”
Chairman up and down the country have pressed the case for some common sense ruling. No-one is underestimating what is going on in the wider world; other businesses though have been able to resume welcoming members of the public through the door. Should football be any different?
Cove have held three pre-season games at home – Dundee, Fraserburgh and Banks o’Dee – and extensive work has gone in to readying the stadium for a safe return.
Bill Ogilvie, nominated as the club’s Covid officer, and head physio Donal Gallagher have been at the forefront of the process to ensure staff and players can return to work.
The League Two champions tested their players this week, as indicated by the protocols for facing a Premiership side, and everything is in place for Saturday’s kick-off on Premier Sports. But it is hard to get too excited.
Moorhouse said: “We’re in as good a shape as we could ever be. But I think other matters overshadow it. It’ll be a great day for the club but it’s just so disappointing people can share in it.
“If you’re anywhere in football just now, it’s a worrying time.”