DAVE Cormack, the Aberdeen chairman, and Roy MacGregor, his Ross County counterpart, were unable to disguise their excitement this weekend as they discussed the impending return of supporters to football stadiums.

“Just to have some fans in the ground will be a joy,” said MacGregor as he looked ahead to the Premiership match against Celtic in Dingwall this Saturday on Sportsound on Radio Scotland.

The Highland businessman is hoping to get the green light from the Scottish government today to stage a test event at the Global Energy Stadium and let between 300 and 500 spectators through the turnstiles.

Cormack is also optimistic Aberdeen will receive the go-ahead from Holyrood to allow some socially distanced season ticket holders to attend their league meetings against Kilmarnock and Motherwell at Pittodrie on Saturday and Sunday week respectively.

“Hopefully with the success of these events we will be able to rapidly move forward and get all of our season ticket holders in,” said McCormack in a video posted on Twitter.

It is little wonder the prospect is so appealing to the pair; having even a limited number of fans cheering on teams for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak back in March will be a significant step forward for Scottish football after seven months of unprecedented turmoil and financial uncertainty.

Yet, the fact that Ibrox will remain empty for Rangers’ encounter with Dundee United on Saturday due to lockdown restrictions being reimposed around Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire last week underlines the road back to some sort of normality promises to be a long and bumpy one for the game in this country.

Rangers, in common with all of their top flight rivals, have fully embraced the Covid-19 testing procedures and safety protocols put in place by the SFA and SPFL Joint Response Group in recent weeks and had hoped to be able to stage a trial game too.

The rise in cases in certain areas of the west of Scotland, not any failure to follow the strict guidelines on their part, is to blame for their next Premiership outing once again having to take place behind closed doors and being devoid of any atmosphere.

There is every chance that will continue to prove problematic in the weeks and months ahead. Indeed, Lanarkshire is very close to following Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire. If that happens, Hamilton and Motherwell won’t be throwing open their doors to the public again any time soon.

Cormack, the United States-based software entrepreneur, revealed the safeguards Aberdeen have implemented on match days this season had received a glowing endorsement from European football’s governing body following their Europa League qualifier against NSI Runavik of the Faroe Islands last month.

“The UEFA inspector not only said we had gone above and beyond, but what we had done was outstanding,” he said. “That bodes well for us getting back to, sooner rather than later, having all of our season ticket holders in to Pittodrie.”

But the Granite City was put into a local lockdown, which prevented people from travelling into the centre for leisure, for three weeks in August after a spike in cases linked to the hospitality sector. There is nothing their local football club will be able to do should another cluster arise in future.

The chaos that was caused in the Czech Republic camp last week when one member of the backroom team tested positive as they prepared for their Nations League double header against Slovakia away and Scotland at home also gave a glimpse of potential difficulties which may lie ahead.

The official was put into quarantine, midfielder Tomas Soucek and striker Patrik Schick, who had been in close contact with him, were ordered to self-isolate, their departure for Bratislava was delayed by a day while the entire squad was retested and players then made the 200 mile journey by road after splitting into small groups.

Their Group B2 game in Olomouc this evening – which had been called off by the Football Association of the Czech Republic late on Friday night before UEFA intervened – will take place involving a completely new group of players.

It is to be hoped that Premiership clubs are well prepared for such an eventuality and will cope far better with the repercussions if it does. Still, the potential for upheaval is considerable.

What happens if a game has to be postponed? Or games even? Aberdeen and Celtic have, due to the flagrant breaches of regulations their players were found guilty of, have already had two matches called off. The fixture list is jam packed with Betfred Cup, Premiership, Scottish Cup, European and international games as it is. There is precious little room for manoeuvre.

With any luck, Scotland and Scottish football is through the worst. If First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gives the all clear for fans to go to games this weekend it will be a hugely positive development. But full houses remain some way off in the distance

There are sure to be many more disappointments and setbacks until a sell-out crowd packs out a ground again.