MARK MAGUIRE, Hartlepool United’s chief executive, feels the impact of the coronavirus shutdown could see clubs go under.

Football has been put on hold until at least the first weekend in April, most likely for longer, with plans on how to end the current season still to be defined.

And while clubs are in the final stretch of games, the financial impact of having no direct income from games could have a massive affect on some, especially those outside the framework of the Premier and Football Leagues.

Pools are reliant on chairman and owner Raj Singh for their funding, but others in National League and National League North are more reliant on income from gate receipts, matchdays and events at their club.

“Clubs will be lucky or unlucky with their ownership. We are lucky with a chairman who understands and is confident football will restart and has the willingness to see us through it,’’ he said.

Darlington are a community owned club, one without a single benefactor, while Spennymoor are under the control of Brad Groves to keep their heads above water.

Barnet have today put all their staff on notice, while the players are under contract and, as a result, protected.

A statement reads: "In order to meet the challenges ahead of us, we will have to dismantle our existing cost structure and look to rebuild for next season with a much leaner cost base.

"We have therefore taken the difficult decision to put all Barnet FC staff on notice. This is to include all first team coaching and backroom staff, the Barnet FC Academy and many of the operational staff across all areas of the Club.''

And Maguire accepts if finances dry up in the coming weeks and months, then some clubs in the pyramid are under the real threat of going out of business.

Speaking at Victoria Park on Tuesday morning, he said: “Go back to Friday when there’s lots of pressure on the National Leaguer to cancel. Pressure was on them to continue because of cashflow.

“There is a genuine feeling that clubs could go under. We spent a lot of time talking yesterday to the league and they are talking to address that - can the Government provide short-term loans to cover cash flow?

“Clubs can say we would have had four home games and taken in X amount of money, but it’s not legitimate for clubs to expect their losses to be covered.

“One club last week signed an expensive player and are now asking the league to help them with wages.

“If there’s matchday income and an impact from it then there’s a case for a loan to set against that future income.

“There’s different ways and means to help clubs – leniency on HMRC payments and businesses need that more than Government right now.’’

The National League came under criticism for allowing the weekend’s games to go ahead, waiting until Monday to put the divisions on hold.

Maguire revealed league chiefs were put under pressure by some clubs to carry on because of the financial implications.

“I had dialogue with the National League and during Friday morning when the board meeting was going on I was in receipt of at least 15 emails from clubs in this division and below,’’ he said.

“They were imploring the league to carry on because of their financial consequences to them – but health and welfare is at stake and the league was following Government advice. If felt inevitable on Sunday that the league would be halted.

“We were fully prepared for it when it happened.

“When I spoke to the chief executive on Friday he said other than the high-profile cases in football, Government advice had not changed.

“So the league was in line with club’s wishes and to carry on as long as possible. It was a call either way and it turns out the inevitable has happened.

“The message from us is for clarity for a longer period which will inevitably be the case. Having two-week segments doesn’t allow you to plan properly.

“It’s going to be four-five weeks at minimum and treat it like a close-season and looking after the welfare of staff and players.’’

Pools trained at Victoria Park on Tuesday morning, a full 11v11 practice match taking place, while Maguire spoke to the written and broadcast media.

Rather than use their normal base at East Durham College in Peterlee, Pools opted to work at their own home.

One youth team player has been in indirect contact with the virus and is staying away from the club. Other than that, no-one has shown any symptoms.

Maguire said: “Me and Dave spoke on Sunday and decided to do a couple of gentle sessions at the stadium so we are in control of the environment in terms of sanitising.

“Dave came back with a good point in that if there’s going to be a lockdown and we can’t train then train as long as we can to keep fitness in the legs. We are doing as much as we can, while we can, while looking at consequences from a business perspective.’’

Talks are on going between clubs, leagues and relevant parties. Communication will be key in the coming days and weeks while the beautiful game is on hold.

Maguire added: “Football will start to co-ordinate itself in the coming days and the spirit of getting through it has to come together for a solution to look after staff, fans, people of the town and give them a focus.

“We need to get football back on the map for their enjoyment. That will at some stage be part of the Government thinking – people can’t be locked away for their rest of their lives and this will play a part going forward.

“Players have been good as gold, with no cases. One youth team member was in contact with somebody and we have told him to stay away for the period of time, but we’ve had no issues.

“There’s different opinions among the players over what we should do and it’s under constant review and we will make the right calls at the right times.

And Maguire had a message for the club’s fans during the crisis engulfing the globe: “We want fans to stay interested in us and remember we are here – we will be launching season ticket plans in the near future and their support has been unbelievable.

“The message is stay safe and well, come back fit and come back to get behind us. We can’t ask any more of them than we have.’’