HIBERNIAN chief executive Leeann Dempster expects crowds to return to Scottish football this calendar year - but warned that away supporters may not be able to follow their side around the country.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Dempster said that the safety of fans, players and staff must be Scottish football's highest priority ahead of the Premiership's August restart.

On Wednesday, the SFA/SPFL Joint Response Group issued a statement outlining its intention that fans will be allowed to attend games from July 23 - but social distancing measures may still be in place, meaning games will be played in reduced-capacity grounds.

Dempster welcomed the move, expressing her hope that fixtures behind closed doors will not become the norm in Scotland, but conceded that away supporters may have to wait a little longer before they can regularly attend matches once more.

"We’ll do it when we’re told it’s safe for it to happen, we’ll do it in a very organised way because we don’t want to put anybody at risk," she said. "That would be the very last thing that we would want to do.

"But I think we’ll have supporters in the stadium this side of the year, and I’m feeling more and more confident about it.

"It will be different because I don’t think it’ll be away supporters, I think that’s one step too far for us just now.

"It’ll be a different matchday experience and I think we just need to be open-minded about what that might look like."