THE Minister for Sport, Nigel Huddleston, has confirmed this lunchtime that the National League season will be able to start from Saturday, after the government came up with a funding package to support the clubs in their three leagues.

It means Bradford (Park Avenue) and Guiseley will be able to play their opening league games as planned. Avenue host Gateshead on Monday night and Guiseley will entertain Blyth Spartans on Tuesday.

Speaking in parliament, responding to a question from Tracey Crouch MP, Huddleston said: "Yesterday we provided the National League with assurances that financial support from the government will be forthcoming so they can start this season this Saturday.

"Funding will be focused on those most in need and it will be based on the loss of gate receipts.

"I can't give details today. We are working on those details as I speak."

National League North and South clubs were largely reluctant to start their season without fans until they could be reassured a financial package would be in place to help.

As well as citing a lack of revenue from the loss of gate receipts and bar takings, many of the league's members had another major concern.

They did not want to begin their FA Cup campaigns on Saturday without financial reassurances in place, as playing players in competitive games would activate costly contracts.

Avenue confirmed that this was not an issue for them, as the contracts they have in place are unlike the majority of those in the league.

But regardless, this emergency grant from the government has helped allay those fears for all clubs.

Avenue will kick off their FA Cup campaign behind closed doors at home to fellow National League North side Spennymoor Town, while Guiseley will also be without a crowd for their cup tie against Atherton Collieries at Nethermoor.

Clubs are allowed to live stream their FA Cup games, and Avenue have confirmed they will be doing so, charging £5 for those wanting to follow the game in this manner.

The profits have to be evenly shared between themselves and Spennymoor.