STEETON manager Roy Mason is as passionate about his club as anyone, but insisted “at the end of the day, football’s not important” as he explained why the Chevrons felt they had to pull the plug on Saturday’s match at Lower Breck.

Mason said that North West Counties League First Division North leaders Breck had contacted Steeton on the day before the match to say that the referee in their previous match at St Helens Town was now self-isolating after showing coronavirus symptoms.

They also clarified that a linesman from that game was due to officiate in their clash with Steeton too, so the visitors decided not to travel for the welfare of everyone at the club.

The league have now followed suit, suspending the season with immediate effect on Monday.

Mason said: “We took a call from Lower Breck on the Friday saying the referee from their previous game was self-isolating.

“So their players, officials, and the linesman who was doing our game too, would have all been in contact with him.

“They wanted to postpone and we thought the league might call all the games off but they didn’t.

“Lower Breck then said that given the league guidelines that they felt it might be safe to play.

“But knowing what we knew (about the referee, players and linesman) me and (chairman) Pete Jeffrey felt we couldn’t put our players, supporters and volunteers at risk.”

Mason added: “At the end of the day, football’s not important. We’re a family club and welfare comes first.

“Our kitman, Bryn Morgan, is 69 and another committee member who travels with us, Val Pemberton, is in his mid-60s.

“We have a particular duty of care to these people, as they’re not as young or fit as the players.”

Mason, who admitted his surprise at National League games going ahead over the weekend, said he hopes that non-league clubs do not get forgotten about during the coronavirus crisis.

He said: “It’s frustrating because the experts keep talking about the Premier League and Football League but there’s a lot of teams below that.

“It feels like there is a disregard for non-league. There’s meant to be an FA restructure at Step Four in non-league and somebody needs to make a decision on that.

“How will it work (if the season doesn’t get finished)? Because it has an impact.

“People forget there’s life outside the top flight and there’s a lot of question marks.

“We run a tight ship at Steeton so although the situation would hit us, it would not be as bad as it could be for some.

“There’s teams trying to get a foot on the pyramid, like Ilkley Town, who’ve thrown a lot of money at trying to get into Step Four.”

With football at all levels gripped by coronavirus concerns, Steeton’s last game has almost been forgotten about, a magnificent 3-2 win at high-flying Golcar United on March 6 which took them off the bottom of the table.

Mason said: “We were fantastic. I thought we stuck to our gameplan throughout.

“I felt 3-2 flattered Golcar. We had a stonewall penalty turned down and we had chances at 3-1 up to make it 4-1 or 5-1.”