DARLINGTON are facing a bigger fixture pile up after the National League suspended its North and South divisions for a fortnight yesterday.

Quakers, along with several other clubs, called on the league to suspend fixtures after a row blew up over whether funding for the rest of the season should be in the form of grants or loans. Quakers also asked the league to ensure that Covid 19 testing of players and promotion and relegation still took place.

After a board meeting yesterday morning, the league announced that fixtures in the North and South divisions will be suspended for a fortnight – the National division will continue as normal. Hartlepool’s game at Weymouth is therefore going ahead today.

Several clubs called for the suspension to give the league some breathing space in their talks with the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS), and hopefully persuade the DCMS that an £11m handout should be in the form of a grant instead of a loan which would weigh heavily on clubs when they have little revenue coming in.

Quakers therefore have had four league games postponed – today’s trip to Kettering, Tuesday’s home game against Gateshead, next Saturday’s game at Chester, and the away game at Leamington on February 2.

Darlington manager Alun Armstrong said, “It’s come as no surprise that the league is suspended, but I don’t know when we’re going to fit all these games in. Taking these four into account, we have seven games to re-arrange – we still have to fit our games in against Chorley, Gloucester and Hereford.”

Quakers have only played 11 league games this season out of a possible 42. There is the strong possibility of playing three games per week, reminiscent of their EvoStik title winning season.

Quakers’ next game is scheduled to be the FA Trophy tie against National League Wealdstone on Saturday, February 6 at Blackwell Meadows.

Spennymoor Town, meanwhile, were due at Curzon Ashton today, with Blyth at home on Tuesday and Kettering at home next Saturday.

They were due at Kidderminster on Tuesday, February 2, and their next scheduled game is now at AFC Telford on Saturday, February 6.

There are now growing doubts as to whether the league will restart if it isn’t successful in its negotiations with DCMS, and then even if it does, whether league games will finish as scheduled at the end of May.

The Government’s winter survival package is worth up to £300m in total across all sports, and is comprised mainly of loans but also some grants.

How it is distributed is decided upon by an independent board, with grassroots sport funding body Sport England then administering the payments.

Sport England said in a statement: “We are continuing to work closely with DCMS and impacted sports on the delivery of the Sport Winter Survival Package. Those applicants in most urgent need of support are being prioritised, and conversations with other eligible applicants are continuing.

“The Independent Board continues to consider applications at speed and are meeting regularly through to the end of March. We cannot comment on specific awards whilst discussions remain ongoing.”