National League clubs are told their season will NOT start as planned next month with the return of fans paused due to rising Covid cases
- Four National League clubs received approval last week to hold test events
- Coronavirus cases are on the rise again and test events are set to be scrapped
- A final decision on fans returning to stadiums has yet to be officially announced
- But Michael Gove told BBC Breakfast they are looking to pause that programme
National League clubs have been informed that their season will not start on October 3 as previously planned, with rising Covid-19 cases meaning no fans will be allowed to attend.
Four clubs in the league – namely Dagenham & Redbridge, Yeovil Town, Dartford and Notts County – had received approval last week to hold test events with 1,000 fans on Tuesday and Saturday.
But with coronavirus cases rapidly rising, the government has confirmed the phased and partial return of supporters at sports venues from October 1 is set to be paused.
National League clubs have been told that their season will not start on October 3 as planned
A final decision on fans returning has yet to be officially confirmed, but MP Michael Gove told BBC Breakfast: ‘It was the case that we were looking at a staged programme of more people returning.
‘It wasn’t the case that we were going to have stadiums thronged with fans and we are now looking at how we can pause that programme.
‘But we do want to make sure that – as and when circumstances allow – to get more people back because the virus is less likely to spread outdoors than indoors.
‘We must look at sporting events now with caution, but of course we also recognise that sports are a vital part of this nation.’
Some National league clubs last week received approval to hold test events with 1,000 fans
BBC Sport claim sports around the country are set to be asked by officials for their views on the financial impact of playing behind closed doors for several more months.
With that in mind, the outlet adds the government are keen to work with them on a possible support package that would enable them to survive.
The news comes after National League chairman Brian Barwick said he feared clubs would ‘suffer severe economic hardship’ if spectators were not allowed to return to stadiums in the near future given teams’ overbearing reliance on matchday income at that level.
The 2019-20 National League regular season was brought to an early end because of the pandemic, but play-off games in all three of its divisions were played behind closed doors in July and August.
Harrogate Town were promoted to League Two in the National League play-off final
Barrow, Wealdstone and King’s Lynn Town were elected champions of their respective divisions after club voted to decide the final tables on a points-per-game basis, with the Cumbria side promoted to League Two.
Harrogate Town are also back in the fourth tier of English football after they beat Notts County in the National League play-off final, while Altrincham and Weymouth were also promoted from their respective divisions.
Macclesfield Town, meanwhile, were relegated from League Two, Fylde and Chorley could not avoid the drop from National League North, while Ebbsfleet United were relegated from National League South.