Peterhead boss Jim McInally hopes there could be a crowd at Balmoor for the Blue Toon’s League One home opener against Cove Rangers.
A week after starting their campaign away to Airdrieonians on October 17, Peterhead welcome Paul Hartley’s newly-promoted side north.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced today that some fans could be allowed into grounds by September 14, with some test events possible before this date.
In ordinary circumstances Peterhead would expect a cash windfall with hospitality uptake for the visit of their local rivals.
Three of their first four games are away from home, with trips to Clyde and Montrose on the agenda after the Cove game.
McInally said: “Three out of four away games is good, because it maybe gives us longer to get crowds in, if there’s none in by then.
“It would be a sore one if the Cove game is behind closed doors. That game would be a total sell-out for sponsorship, but I suppose it could be easier to sell-out at short-notice, compared to other games.
“I’m so pleased that Cove are there. It’s a local derby game and we know so many of their players. There’ll be an edge to it, that’s for sure. It’s healthy competition and, as I said last year, we need to take up the challenge that’s coming from Cove.”
The derby at the Balmoral Stadium takes place on January 2 2021, while Peterhead will host the third game on March 13.
McInally’s side have been given away games against Partick Thistle and Falkirk twice. They will travel to the Falkirk Stadium on December 5 and May 1, while visits to Firhill are pencilled in for December 19 and April 10.
The circumstances surrounding the season, its delayed start and truncated nature, mean it is harder for McInally to set targets of where he wants Peterhead to be this season.
He added: “It is difficult, because I didn’t want as many changes as I think there’s going to be with our squad. With a shortened season you want to hit the ground running.
“The first thing you do is your best. We need to make sure we do better than we did last season. If the best you can do is not get relegated and not be in the playoffs, for a club like Peterhead that’s OK.
“We lost too many games by one goal last year, so that’s why I feel it’s key we get a centre-half with experience and a centre-forward that’s got a bit of strength about him. They can be the difference between changing those results into a draw or victory.”
Work is ongoing to finalise his squad for the season, with the loan market a likely source of players for the Blue Toon boss.
He added: “All of the boys I’ve spoken to have just about accepted reduced terms. I’m waiting for a couple to get back to me and we’ve got the furlough extensions to consider.
“We’ll definitely be in the loan market this season for three or four players – something we don’t usually do. We’ll try keep three or four players that have maybe been playing at a higher level.
“I’ve said to players ‘I’m not going to lie – I’m still going to try bring in a couple of players that’ll make a difference to the team’. Doing that we need to sacrifice bodies, so we’ll probably look to have a squad of 18.
“The good thing is now we can use the five subs, so it’s even more of a squad game.”