THERE was some positive news for non-league and grassroots football over the weekend, with pre-season games all set to go ahead from August 1 and league seasons due to start in September.

Until the end of July, competitive training is the only thing allowed, with the overall group size limited to no more than 30 people.

A proposed start date for Step 5 and 6 leagues in the National League System (NLS), including the Toolstation Northern Counties East League, which contains Thackley, Eccleshill United, Silsden, Liversedge, Albion Sports and Campion, is September 5, but discussions are still ongoing.

The likelihood is that this start date, for those clubs and the likes of Bradford (Park Avenue) and Guiseley, is conditional on whether fans will be allowed in the ground, given that is the only real source of revenue for clubs in non-league.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed the hope of letting fans into stadiums for elite sports by October, but the FA have submitted a proposal to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to see if that time frame can be brought forward for non-league and grassroots clubs.

It has been confirmed that the non-league/grassroots season cannot end any later than May 15, 2021 though.

The FA Cup is set to go ahead as normal, and start with the Extra Preliminary Round on Tuesday, September, 1.

The Preliminary Round is scheduled for eleven days later (September 12) whilst the FA Vase begins on September 19 with the First Qualifying Round.

Pre-season fixtures can start from Saturday, August 1, but these must be planned to be behind closed doors until advised otherwise, i.e. when an agreement has been finalised between the FA and the Government about the planned return of spectators at NLS (National League System) grounds.

Clubs will need to appoint a Covid-19 officer from their board or trustees who will take responsibility to ensure risk assessments take place to show they can implement appropriate measures to reduce the risk of transmission.

Their risk assessment and/or Covid-19 action plan must be on their club website by August 15 and the league notified of its completion.

Several non-league clubs have moved quickly following the announcement that matches can return, with Brighouse Town set to host a friendly with Sheffield FC on August 1.

Oxenhope Recreation have been particularly busy, arranging several pre-season matches, including one with Silsden on August 25.

Laurence Jones, Head of the National League System, said: "We understand that clubs are anxious to return, and many will have been working hard already to think of how their club can reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19.

"We would like to thank all leagues and clubs for their patience and support during this incredibly difficult period for everyone involved in the NLS.

"These developments give a roadmap to return and the support and collective work of clubs and leagues to be ready for September – subject to any change in government policy – will be key in achieving this ambition."

Meanwhile, the FA have announced that club allocations for Steps 3 to 7 in the NLS will be released to leagues at some point this week (for those applying to be in a new league, or those seeking voluntary relegation).