Chairman Ross McArthur hopes to have every Dunfermline Athletic season ticket holder inside East End Park for the opening Championship game of next season.
The Fife side, who appointed Peter Grant as their new boss last week, have held off selling briefs for the 2021/22 campaign in the hope of gaining some clarity regarding capacity levels amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
But McArthur is confident that the “vast majority” of the Pars faithful will finally be allowed to return as the vaccination process, which Dunfermline offered up a section of their stadium to assist with, continues apace.
Up to 500 spectators were permitted to attend the recent SPFL playoff finals, while high profile matches south of the border and abroad — including the FA Cup final and Champions League final — were watched by comparatively bumper, raucous crowds.
McArthur said: “I don’t see any reason why we cannot get all of our season ticket holders — and the vast majority of home fans, for that matter — in for the opening Championship game of the season.
“Of course, there is uncertainty when you are talking about different variants [of the virus] and things like that, but there is clear progress with the vaccination levels.
“We were keen to help out our local community by offering East End Park as a vaccination centre and if we have more of the local people vaccinated, then there’s more chance of getting them back in the ground — an added benefit to doing the right thing.
“The supporters have been sorely missed. Some clubs probably struggled with that more than others, particularly those who have a big fanbase. So, I can’t wait to have that backing again and I’m hoping that’s the timeframe we can work to.”
And McArthur pulls no punches in his assessment of the last year without supporters, with fixtures simply ‘being fulfilled’ — as he puts it — in eery silence amid stringent logistical restrictions.
‘The intensity of games will change dramatically’
He added: “Last season was not football as I understand it — we were fulfilling fixtures. You are playing a game in a soulless surrounding and it’s just not the same.
“I believe the intensity of games will change dramatically when crowds are back.
“I was watching the FA Cup final [Leicester’s win over Chelsea] that took place with fans, and even just watching it on telly was so good. The noise; the passion; the atmosphere — and that was Wembley one-third full, if you are lucky.
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) May 22, 2021
“There is a huge pent-up demand for people to get back to football and be able to enjoy some degree of normality.
“Football clubs are at the heart of their community and there are a lot of people who work hard during the week and want to have that game at the weekend as their release, and we want them back.”