Cove Rangers have everything in place for a safe return to training later this month.
The Aberdeen side had hoped to resume training today, however, the delay announced by the Scottish FA/SPFL Joint Response Group this week means they have pushed that back until August 25.
Manager Paul Hartley has praised the work done by the club behind the scenes to get everything ready for a return, with their competitive season due to start in October.
He acknowledged part-time clubs are in a tricky situation, because players are not able to operate in a “bubble”, while adding that no more mistakes can be made after some high-profile breaches of Covid-19 protocols.
Hartley said: “Our preparation was meticulous. We had everything in place – testing, the stadium had been deep-cleaned and sanitised, and the players were looking forward to coming back.
“We’ve worked ever so hard to get everything in place. There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that people don’t see, because of the standards we’ve set. The club have been magnificent.
“You’ve got to consider that our lads are working different jobs, which makes it far easier for full-time clubs as they stay in a bubble.
“They’re going to different workplaces before and after we see them.
“Hopefully everyone stays professional and safe – everyone has got to be careful. We’ve got to take responsibility, players and staff. We can’t make any more mistakes. We’ve had enough warning.”
Hartley says Scottish football is lucky to get donations from James Anderson, which has helped the Aberdeen club in their preparations to return to training.
Edinburgh-based philanthropist Anderson has donated more than £3 million to the Scottish men’s game since the Covid-19 outbreak, with smaller donations also going to women’s and youth football.
Each of the 42 SPFL clubs has received a £50,000 sum as a Covid-19 crisis grant, which will enable clubs to put in place testing protocols and enable a return to training.
This was viewed as one of the most prohibitive costs for part-time clubs coming back and the lower leagues are not starting until October, two months after the Premiership. However, the money received from Anderson has given clubs a helping hand.
Hartley said: “Everyone is the same. Scottish football was very lucky to get handed a large donation from James Anderson which helps every club, the part-time clubs especially.
“It’s a lot of expense when we don’t know how long we’re going to be doing this, so we’ll go with the guidelines and as long as we have to test, we’ll keep doing it.
“There’s a lot of cost to it, that’s for sure. We have to do it – it’s the only way we were going to get back to football.”
Meanwhile, Elgin City chairman Graham Tatters has warned following the same coronavirus testing protocols as Premiership clubs will be unfeasible for lower league sides.
Although Elgin are not planning to return to training until early next month, Tatters is concerned by the lack of guidance on how his club will be able to meet the twice-weekly testing requirements.
Tatters believes the guidelines are tailored for top-flight clubs living in bubbles, and show a disregard for part-time clubs whose players hold full-time jobs.
Tatters said: “The problem at the moment is that we need to be looking seriously at whether we can afford to do it.
“We are really in a dilemma, where if they don’t change the protocol on testing we will be in deep trouble.”