FOLLOWING an interrupted and ultimately unsuccessful league cup campaign, Morton's season begins in earnest with the Championship kick-off.

The Greenock men welcome Dunfermline to Cappielow for the curtain-raiser and they will be able to host a crowd of up to 1,500 home fans as pandemic public health restrictions ease.

While it's unfortunate the players and spectators will not be able to sample a fully-fledged Cowshed atmosphere, with fans having to remain masked and distanced and no away supporters permitted, hopefully these barriers will finally be removed soon.

It's also regrettable that the match will be played with the club still in the halfway house of a change of ownership.

The opening game of the league season should have heralded the dawn of a new era with the community takeover by fans' investment group Morton Club Together.

The delayed deal - which was due to go through at the beginning of June - has still not completed, with lawyers for MCT and Golden Casket still to sign the paperwork amidst a checklist of outstanding items, some of them which are said to be complex matters.

Starting the 2021/22 season by making a clean break with the past would have been a much more preferable state of affairs but it seems that a little more patience will be required yet.

It's to be hoped that the unresolved issues can be concluded swiftly so that the new owners can get on with the sizeable task in front of them of modernising the club and overhauling and improving the way it is run both on and off the park.

The other fly in the ointment over the summer has been the difficulty encountered in recruiting players.

Gus MacPherson managed to get some good business done in the early part of the close season, with Alan Lithgow, Gozie Ugwu, Jack Hamilton and Mark Russell all signing on.

But with 13 players leaving the club in a mass exodus, this has left him well short of senior and experienced players to complete the squad and, more importantly, give the club the best chance of avoiding the difficulties it has faced in recent chaotic seasons.

It might be reasonably assumed that the manager will be frustrated that just days aways from the kick-off he was still highlighting the need to bring in another four players, with Stephen McGinn obviously not the only signing target to decide to go elsewhere to play their football.

He has already had to contend with being a week to 10 days behind rival clubs in terms of pre-season preparations owing to a Covid-19 outbreak.

There is only so much that the club can do to avoid more cases but hopefully the worst of the disruption is now behind them and they can concentrate on getting off to a good start.

This will be important, as the league again looks like being very competitive.

While Kilmarnock have caught the eye with their big summer rebuild and look to be favourites to lift the title, there is little to choose between many of the other sides.

Dunfermline, Partick and Inverness all have designs on a top four finish while Hamilton have only just come down from the Premiership and will want to reassert themselves and Raith are looking to overcome the loss of a couple of key players as they try to follow last year's impressive finish.

It would be extremely difficult to envisage a promotion play-off finish for any of Ayr, Arbroath and Queen of the South who are all more likely to land in the bottom half.

So where does that leave Morton fitting in, as they look to avoid a repeat of the struggles that saw them have to come through an end of season shootout to keep their place in the division?

Frankly a lot is going to depend on the players the manager is able to bring in.

One of the few plus points from last term was the solid performance of the defence, and it has been bolstered by the addition of Lithgow at centre back, while Hamilton should be a more than adequate replacement for Aidan McAdams in goal.

The performance against Kilmarnock in the Premier Sports Cup tie would suggest that Ton's well organised rearguard remains intact and that they can remain competitive.

Now they have to fix the problem that bedevilled them last year - creating chances and scoring goals.

The addition of new boy Ugwu is an upgrade on what was there in attack last season while the club has retained Gary Oliver and Robbie Muirhead, with both beginning brightly.

The challenge for them is to show the kind of consistency they've lacked and it would not be a surprise to see another frontman added to ensure competition for places.

Midfield is the other key area MacPherson needs to bolster, adding a creative playmaker at the very least, with the talented young players who have been blooded also having a part to play over the next nine months or so.

While Ton have home advantage to start Dunfermline still represent a stiff task.

New manager Peter Grant looks to have made some good acquisitions, including Graham Dorrans, and has put the accent firmly on attack, where Nikolay Todorov, Craig Wighton and Kevin O'Hara could be a troublesome trio to contend with.

This should make for an open and end-to-end game as both clubs look to get off to a winning start.