THE National League remain hopeful of starting their season on October 3, but are awaiting the outcome of financial discussions with the Government and Football Association before committing to any firm plans.

Yesterday’s National League board meeting discussed plans for this season’s Vanarama National League, which features Hartlepool United, and Vanarama National League North, which is home to Darlington, Spennymoor Town, York City and Blyth Spartans.

League officials had previously stated that they would not be staging matches if teams were forced to play behind-closed-doors, so with the Government having ruled out the return of spectators to professional football stadia earlier this week, the planned restart date at the start of next month has been thrown into doubt.

However, while a majority of National League North clubs continue to harbour serious concerns about playing matches without paying spectators in attendance, it is understood a number of clubs in the National League want to press ahead on October 3.

Much now depends on the outcome of ongoing talks with the Government and FA over a financial rescue package that could make it viable for clubs to fulfil their fixture list despite little or no matchday revenue.

A statement released by the National League said: “In recognition of the financial uncertainty facing its member clubs, The National League is actively engaged with Government, with the assistance of The Football Association, to secure a critical financial support package, and it is hoped this can be announced very soon.

“It is imperative the revenue shortfall caused by the pause to the safe return of spectators is responsibly addressed so each club can operate sustainably over the course of the forthcoming season.”

National League North clubs are due to start their season with a game in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup, with the draw scheduled to take place later tomorrow.