NON-LEAGUE football fans can circle Saturday, October 3 in their calendars after a proposed start date for the new season was confirmed.
The North West Counties Football League revealed the ‘provisional start date’ which is dependent on government laws being relaxed to allow fans back into stadiums.
It means that south Sefton teams including Marine FC, Bootle FC and Litherland Remyca now have an idea of when their first match will be played.
Most clubs have already started pre-season after an original start date of September 5 was mooted, but this has now been described by league officials as ‘unfeasible.’
Although October 3 is the new date, there are many uncertainties that still remain, including the complicated task of putting together a fixture list based on certain clubs ground sharing.
It is also reliant on spikes of coronavirus cases, with other parts of the north currently experiencing increased lockdown measures, meaning league officials are prepared to push back the season start date into November.
A spokesperson for the NWCL said: “The FA has stated that the season will not commence until paying spectators are permitted into the grounds.
“This is fundamental to be able to start the season in a sustainable way for clubs. The cost of kicking off behind closed doors, for the majority of clubs, is financially unviable. We need to start somewhere and looking at the permutations of the current COVID-19 situation in the north west, the Management Committee has set a provisional start date of Saturday, October 3.
“This is subject to circumstances permitting and of course government legislation allowing gatherings of a certain size. At present there is a considerable list of items to be considered before we can start playing again. We are currently unable to set a fixture list due to groundshares between several of our clubs and those from other leagues.
“Those leagues in turn have to wait for the fixtures of higher leagues due to ground safety and local policing requirements so it all has a knock-on impact.
“In addition, the Isle of Man still has strict quarantine restrictions in place which add further complication.
“In implementing October 3 as a provisional start date, the Management Committee is mindful of the COVID-19 issues currently being faced in the north west and the likely changes in legislation as a result.
“Therefore, we are also making contingency plans for how the competition will operate if the start date goes into November or beyond.
“We are mindful of the fact that many clubs want to get back playing football, and that people want to watch it.
“However, many clubs simply cannot start in the current situation, so we have to balance the views of everyone working within Government guidelines.
“The safety and wellbeing of players, officials, volunteers and spectators remains our top priority and we can only start once we are satisfied that this can be maintained and the season can commence with all clubs being able to compete on a level playing field.”