GAMES in the National League have been postponed until April 3 as a result of the spread of coronavirus.

They held a board meeting today and just before 6pm announced they would fall in line with other levels of the game by suspending fixtures until early next month.

Darlington were due to play at Boston United tomorrow evening, but that match will need to be rescheduled.

Quakers boss Alun Armstrong had been critical of the decision not to suspend games before the weekend, saying: “Health is more important than money. You might get your money but, have you passed the virus on to your grandparents? These are worrying times.”

The decision affects several other North-East clubs; Hartlepool United in the National League, and as well as Darlington also in the North division are York City, Gateshead, Blyth Spartans and Spennymoor Town.

A league statement reads: “At its Board Meeting on Friday, The National League decided to use its best endeavours to keep its season going in the face of unprecedented adversity.

“However, with the current coronavirus (COVID-19) reaching global pandemic levels it has to accept that the situation is now out of its own control.

“In the knowledge of the government measures now announced including not to support sporting events with emergency services workers it is clearly not practical for its fixtures to be fulfilled in the immediate future.

“In those circumstances and in line with The Football Association and the Professional Game, at a Board Meeting today, The National League has decided that its competition is now suspended until at least 3rd April 2020.

“The National League will continue to monitor the situation, but trusts that its loyal clubs, fans, players, officials, staff, volunteers and sponsors will accept that it has had no other choice but to reach this decision.

“It wishes everybody connected with the competition and indeed the whole country a safe passage through these turbulent times.”

Football in the top four divisions was suspended on Friday – Premier League and EFL – plus the Ebac Northern League.

That meant games in the National League and Northern Premier League were among the few fixtures in the country to go ahead on Saturday.

However, earlier today the Northern Premier League, in which South Shields are top-of-the-table, announced a suspension.

A statement read: “The Northern Premier League has today decided, reluctantly, to suspend all fixtures until further notice in light of the escalating Covid-19 outbreak.

“The League would like to congratulate the players, officials, volunteers and fans of clubs able to stage games at the weekend and notes the excellent attendances at those fixtures. Whilst the primary responsibility of the League is to the financial sustainability of its member clubs, the number of clubs reporting players or officials in self-isolation has now reached a point at which continuing to play games would severely undermine the integrity of the competition.

“In consultation with the partners Eliteform, all NPL Football Academy fixtures have also been suspended until further notice.

“The NPL is well aware that clubs and fans need clarity around whether the 2019/20 season is to be suspended temporarily or permanently, and the full implications of either eventuality. The NPL will be working with the other Alliance Leagues and the Football Association, to assess the various options and to agree a way forward.

“As soon as we are able to, we will share that information with member clubs and their supporters.”