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Club chairman Iain Dougan is one of a handful of people keeping Stranraer FC up and running on matchdays

Chairman checks in ahead of new season

The countdown to the new season is a time when football fans are filled with hope.

Pre-season has been and gone and fans have plenty of expectations ahead of the first competitive game.

Unfortunately, 2020 is not a time, at the moment, when fans will get the chance to cheer on their team from the surroundings of Stair Park.

Iain Dougan, Stranraer FC chairman, will be among those in the ground and told the club website that while it was a privilege to be at Stair Park it was not the same without his fellow fans.

He said: “It is a privileged position being able to watch the games.

Mr Dougan believes football is nothing without the supporters

“Fans are football.

“Even just being there, the atmosphere is not the same.

“We don’t get the crowds – we know we don’t get huge crowds – but being able to talk to people at the game, about the game, opinions, arguing about whether someone is offside, arguing about whether they should have scored – that’s all part and parcel of the occasion.

“It is a privileged position being there to watch it but it is not the same.

“It is definitely not the same as normal, even for those privileged few that can get in.”

Instead, while the games are being played, fans can watch the action via a live stream.

Stranraer FC Fitba Bar may be the only place to watch with fellow fans – for now

Money has been spent in a bid to ensure the best package is available for those watching at home or in the Fitba Bar.

Mr Dougan acknowledged it was not the best situation in the world but felt they were doing what they could to try to ensure the fans could still watch the team in action.

He said: “It’s not ideal but I think the fact that we have foreseen this with George Frank, Laurence Nelson and the rest of the crew, we backed them and got the camera just in case.

“Obviously, at the time we did not think this would be as severe again.

“We thought we were coming out of it and we would have fans back.

“That was the main reason for delaying the kick off of the season.

Dougan is anxiously awaiting the return of Blues supporters to Stair Park

“We actually anticipated that by the time the League Cup started we would be more or less be back to normal.

“Unfortunately, that is not the case.

“We hope that it is not long-term without fans because it is not good for anybody.

“Financially, it is not good for the club, and it is not good for fans.

“You have got games on in England, non-league, that have bigger crowds than what we get and they are going ahead, socially-distanced.

“Even if we were given a percentage of the capacity of each ground, in most cases it would be satisfactory.”

Clearly, with no fans coming through the gates at Stair Park, it is impacting upon the finances.

The committee at Stair Park face an uphill battle to keep the lights on this season

The chairman said: “Where the problems do arise is come Saturday, we’ve no crowds and we have still got the wage bill.

“The wage bill is the main outgoing for the club.”

The premature end to last season confirmed Stranraer’s return to the fourth tier of Scottish football.

Many fans will be raring to go, with hopes that the coming season proves a return to winning ways.

Similarly, the club’s chairman was keen to see the team up challenging for the Scottish League Two title.

He said: “You’ve got to go out and do your best in every game.

“It’s not a case of thinking you can just turn up and think ‘that the fact we were in League One last year, we will just go out and beat teams’ – it does not work that way.

“We would like to hope we are fighting at the right end rather down near the bottom.”