The outbreak of Covid-19 has blown the footballing world into uncharted waters with a number of professional leagues already being cancelled and fears some clubs could face serious financial difficulties, but what about further down the English football pyramid where clubs may struggle to stay afloat?
The majority of amateur football leagues were called off in early to late March, and whilst this was the right decision to take it does mean clubs have missed out on titles, promotions, relegations and cup runs.
Wessex Premier League side Alresford Town were in superb form and on their way to the league title, facing stiff competition from newcomers AFC Stoneham who were hunting back-to-back titles after being crowned Division One champions in 2019.
In the same league, Hamble FC were looking forward to a Sydenhams League Cup semi-final match against Portland United, a shining light in what had been a tough season for the Monks, but just a week beforehand the announcement was made and the game would not go ahead.
It will be a massive disappointment for the club’s regulars as well as the players and staff who had a realistic chance of winning the club’s first silverware since 2017.
For chairman Steve Harris, the season's cancellations have brought detrimental implications in terms of the club’s finances.
Teams at this level rely heavily on sponsorship and matchday income to help keep the doors open and with some set to miss up to 10 games because of the coronavirus there may be some tough times ahead for these sides.
“For a regular match day, we would have a regular income of around £200 to £400 per game and we’ve missed out on 12 of those so you’re looking at around a minimum of £2500 lost just from missing those games.”
The troubles don’t end there as Steve admits getting new sponsorships at the club will become a near-impossible task claiming: “It’s massively difficult now to get teams sponsored for things like new kit.”
“Usually we have coverage from our sponsor for between £500 and £800 per team and now we’re struggling as a club to get those covered.”
So, who is missing out the most as a result of non-league football being cancelled?
Mostly it is the clubs who were fighting for promotion and in cup competitions, teams like Alresford and Hamble would have received huge benefits both financially and status for their achievements.
Players and staff in these situations will also feel disappointed that their hard work will ultimately go to waste with no plan set out to resume the current season when things do improve.
Whether there could have been a way to plan a return for the season we don’t know, however, there is no price for a person’s health and the decision to cancel the season was the right one.
With no date set for the new season to start, it could be a long and anxious summer for non-league football.
This article was written exclusively for Golear.co.uk.