THERE may be some sense of relief for Steeton manager Roy Mason, whose second-bottom side have been spared the threat of relegation from the North West Counties Football League First Division North by unprecedented circumstances, but his overriding feelings are those of empathy and uncertainty.

With the coronavirus pandemic worsening across the country, the FA dramatically declared all seasons from step three to six in the non-league pyramid null and void last week, meaning there will be no promotions or relegations from those leagues in 2019/20.

NWCFL chairman Paul Lawler has written to the FA asking for clarification on a number of financial and structural issues that have arisen as a result of the ruling, while First Division North leaders Lower Breck (step six) are one of several clubs to put their name to a letter to the FA asking them to reconsider their decision.

But the FA have made no suggestion, thus far, that they will be changing their minds, and addressing the situation, Mason said: “From our point of view, it’s a big relief to not get relegated. It means we can plan, and plan earlier, and we’re hoping to start the new season afresh in August.

“But it’s still an uncertain time for most teams. Look at the finances we get from sponsors. None of us at this level are backed by multi-national companies, it’s all local businesses.

“Will they be around when this pandemic is over? And can they afford to fund football clubs if they are still around?”

“It’s a big worry for people. And you wonder whether clubs will be able to operate the same as previously when we return? I’m not sure.

“Will clubs have to live within their means too? At some clubs, the wages players get might not be sustainable any more.”

Mason has always been proud of Steeton’s financial nous, and believes his side should not be massively affected by the crisis.

But what about the season itself, which has now practically vanished into thin air?

Mason said: “We’ve put in a hell of a lot of work as a club this season, with blood, sweat, tears and sleepless nights.

“And the (3-2) win in our last game against Golcar showed to me that the young side that we have assembled is now starting to grow in confidence.

“The football we played that night was probably the best we have played all season.

“So it might sound silly given the position that we were in, but it’s frustrating, because all that worry and effort has ended up being for nothing.

“But I really feel for clubs like Vauxhall Motors (in the NWCFL First Division South). They’ve already been mathematically promoted, so to deny them promotion seems massively unfair.”

Mason signed off by thanking the 54 players who have featured for Steeton this season, as well as the club’s backroom staff, volunteers and committee men.

He also lauded the sponsors and fans for their support, and said he hopes everyone and their families stay safe in these trying times.