Murrayfield could still be an option for Hibernian home fixtures when they are allowed to welcome supporters back into games, although club chiefs concede that the cost of accommodating bigger crowds may be too much to bear.
The Scottish Government boosted hopes of the swifter than anticipated return of football crowds by pencilling in 4 August as the possible move into phase four of the easing of Covid 19 lockdown restrictions.
But while that was welcomed by Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster, ongoing social distancing measures mean fan numbers would be restricted unless they are able to take up temporary residence at the home of Scottish Rugby.
“I still anticipate we will have Hibs fans in the stadium next season and I hope that it will be this side of the year,” Dempster said. “A few days ago I might have thought January onwards and a really limited amount, but I am more hopeful now. I think they will get in this year, whether October, November...who knows?
“I think for most teams it will be their own ground. But we are still having discussions with the guys at Murrayfield and we still like the idea. The barrier for us is the real, physical cost of putting a match on there because the stadium is so big and we would have to use virtually all of it, or even all of it from a social distancing perspective. The associated cost of opening up all of it, even with reduced stewarding is still significantly more than we could probably bear. We have not given up hope yet but if you had asked me a couple of weeks ago I was probably 70-30 or 60-40 in favour of it happening but I am probably about 50-50 now.”
But the fans who have been quick to snap up season tickets will be rewarded for their backing in uncertain times.
“We are almost at 9000 and that is what feeds the club. I can say with real certainty that season ticket holders will be prioritised so the minute anyone can get into the stadium, the only ones who will get in there first are season ticket holders. I don’t think we will see any away fans.”
Dempster also hailed the efforts of fans, with over 700 signing up to Hibernian Supporters Limited in the past week.