FOLLOWING an urgent League Management Committee meeting held on Wednesday, the North West Counties Football League have decided it is not currently feasible to start the season on September 5, as per FA guidelines.

They are set to start a month later instead.

Steeton boss Roy Mason has praised the NWCFL for their efforts throughout this tricky time and for making a stand against the earlier start date.

But he also went further, telling Non-League Yorkshire that "anyone who thinks they'll be playing a 38-game full season, I think they are deluded."

He expressed that this was due to a combination of possible further lockdowns and the unpredictable winter weather.

He also told Non League Yorkshire that he would happily put league football on hold for 12 months and stick to regionalised games against the likes of Silsden, Thackley and Eccleshill United.

Meanwhile, back to the NWCFL's statement, they said the start date of the 2020/21 was discussed at length but that there are significant logistical challenges ahead before they can consider starting the new campaign.

The FA has stated that the National League System season (the six tiers immediately below the EFL) will not commence until paying spectators are permitted into the grounds.

The NWCFL have reiterated that this is fundamental, in order to be able to start the season in a sustainable way for clubs.

They added that the cost of kicking off behind closed doors, for the majority of clubs, is financially unviable.

Therefore, the Management Committee have set a provisional start date of Saturday, October 3.

But adding further information on this, they said: "This is subject to circumstances permitting and of course government legislation allowing gatherings of a certain size.

"Although pre-season fixtures have already started for some clubs, there are several who are unable to play due to Local Authority rules, or the risk to vulnerable volunteers.

"For fairness, and the integrity of the competition, it was agreed that all clubs should be allowed a minimum of one month of ‘playing time’ to prepare.

"Therefore, the start date will move accordingly should we not be able to give the go-ahead four weeks prior to the proposed start.

"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 adds further complications.

"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."