THE cancellation of the North West Counties League season will come as little surprise to anyone involved.

In fact, Prestwich Heys boss Matt Barnes had already drawn a line under the ill-fated 2019/20 campaign and is turning his attention to next term.

Heys had been handily placed in the First Division North table, in seventh and with a few games in hand.

But no one will ever know how the run-in would have unfolded as the league announced this week that the 14 step five and six divisions in non-league football will not play to a conclusion due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That leaves Barnes mulling over what might have been but mindful of the fact that far weightier problems must take precedence.

“It’s just a weird time for everyone at the moment, everyone is in limbo,” he said. “I think most clubs will be aiming to take a lead from the Premier League and get back training when they do, but it’s not going to happen any time soon.

“The main thing is for everybody to come out the other side safe and well.

“At the end of the day the coronavirus has put things into perspective and as long as people come out of it healthy, alive and well then that’s the main thing.

“I miss football, I love football more than anybody I know, but there are far more important things to be concerned about.

“We don’t know when we’ll be able to do anything again so we’re in a fight against something we have no control over.”

No decision has been made regarding promotion or relegation to and from the North West Counties League’s Premier and First Division North and South.

Sitting seventh when the fixtures were all postponed, Heys cannot make up the ground to the top-four if the mooted points-per-game method is used to determine the final placings.

Barnes’ men had the teams in second and sixth to play but also two games against 18th-placed Bacup Borough and matches against Pilkington (ninth), Chadderton (13th), Cleator Moor Celtic (16th), Atherton LR (17th) and Steeton (19th).

“Going forward, I’m confident we could have won seven of the nine games we had left and that would have seen us take that fourth place,” said Barnes.

“But if it comes down to using the points-per-game method they’ve been talking about we would miss out, we’d either stay in seventh or maybe go up one place to sixth.

“We would have had a game against AFC Blackpool, who are second, and Ashton Town, who are sixth, and I’m confident we would have got results in those games as well as the others against teams much lower down.

“Calling the season null and void is probably the only thing they can do now. We can look back on a season where we don’t think there were many teams better than us.

“We’ve brought in some good players, experienced players, to add to what was already here at the club and to be honest we’d all been thinking more about next season rather than thinking anything else will happen this year.”

The cancellation of the season also leaves clubs contemplating the impact on their financial sustainability, but Barnes feels Heys’ tightly-run ship is one of the league’s bast-placed to cope with the lack of matchday income.

“We’ll be okay as a club because I don’t think we have that many outgoings, certainly not as many as some others,” he added.

“We have no one on contracts whereas clubs that do will have to pay their players and get nothing in return in terms of playing matches.

“Our players get their expenses but that’s all so while we do need people through the gate and takings over the bar on matchdays what we do pay out is pretty minimal.

“I think there will be more repercussions next season though, a lot of local businesses, many of them supporting us, aren’t going to be ready.

“That’s a concern for later on though, we won’t be on our own and there are far more important things going on right now.

“I think the FA and the Premier League will be needed, they need to put some sort of support package on.

“If more money was to filter down from the Premier League and its clubs, which are the figurehead of English football, it would make a massive difference."