STEETON manager Roy Mason has admitted the club cannot get by without fans attending games, and said he questioned how the North West Counties League campaign is even going to finish at this rate.

The season was due to resume on Saturday, but now will not return until December 19 at the earliest, with fans currently not allowed to attend games in tier 3 areas like West Yorkshire.

Explaining the situation from Steeton’s point of view, Mason said: “We can’t operate without supporters.

“That’s just based on running costs alone, as you have to pay for officials, ground maintenance and things like washing your kit for home games, then replace paying for officials with travel expenses for away games.

“All that money is falling down a black hole this season.

“I’ve always been open about how we’re a self-sustainable club but there’s been no home game for us since March, given we’ve still been getting Marley ready.

“Without our sponsors’ generosity, we’d have been in the mire. They’re not seeing the rewards from things like having their names on advertising boards at home games either.

“We all want to go back, and the players are devastated to still not be playing, but they probably don’t think about all those behind the scenes costs, which we’ve been explaining to them.

“We’ve got to have that wait until at least the 19th, which is when supporters might next be allowed in.

“But the league and the FA can only take advice from the government’s tier review, and do we really see West Yorkshire being out of tier 3 in a couple of weeks’ time?”

A despondent Mason added: “There’s doubts over the season being completed, as I don’t think the FA want to extend the season into June.

“They’ve talked about deciding positions and promotion and relegation on points per game if they can’t fulfil all the fixtures, but all we’ve had so far are five away games and some teams in our league have only played twice so far.

“For me, you have to have at least 75 per cent of the games before that becomes a meaningful way to decide the season.

“I’ve said in the past I thought this season was going to be stop-start and I don’t see how it’s going to finish now. I don’t know how you’re going to get all the games in.

“With those five days over Christmas where the government are lifting the restrictions, I think people will abuse that and then we’ll be stuck in another lockdown.

“Then you’ve got to factor in the traditional January and February weather. We’ll be okay on the 3G pitch at Marley but some teams won’t.

“It doesn’t take a genius to work out we were going to have a second wave and then bad weather over the winter.

“It begs the question over why we even started the season in the first place.

“The North West Counties League didn’t start until October, so did the FA really think we were going to get a full season in?”

On a more positive note, Marley is finally ready to welcome fans, but Steeton could be waiting a long time before they can have a capacity crowd.

Mason said: “We’ve just got the floodlights all sorted and Marley is ready to roll.

“We’ve got a fantastic venue to play at but we want the supporters there.

“It’s supposed to be a big day when we play our first competitive game there, and we don’t want it to have to be behind closed doors.

“Steeton is about the supporters as much as anyone else.

“At the moment we might be able to play a few behind closed doors friendlies, but that’s about it for now.”