YORK City boss Steve Watson has issued a message of support as the country braces for the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to The Press, the Minstermen number one’s tone was one of cautious optimism for York’s season - but, above all, empathy and compassion for those enduring difficult circumstances.

He was keen to stress that though football is a significant part of his and other members of the City staff, the current situation is bigger than sport.

“It’s not a football message,” Watson emphasised.

“Stay safe, healthy and look after your loved ones.

“Football will be back at some stage and, when it is, we will be fully focused on the job we have started.”

York City’s National League North campaign has been put on hold because of the spread of the virus, with the National League having agreed to suspend activity until April 3 at the earliest.

The decision came three days after the Premier League and EFL paused their campaigns, meaning many of the weekends fixtures went ahead.

York’s home meeting with Altrincham was only called off late on Friday as staff from both sides had exhibited symptoms of the virus - but they remain two points clear at the summit, with second-placed King’s Lynn Town losing at home to Guiseley.

Watson has said he and York are prepared to readjust their plans again in the wake of the decision made on Thursday to further suspend the professional game, this time to April 30.

As for the original decision, he also admitted slight surprise that it took the weekend to catch on at Steps 1 and 2, but acknowledged financial implications may have played a part.

He said: “I just thought once the Premier League and the EFL made the decision, it was the only logical decision.

“I was probably surprised that last week went ahead because the same reasons apply to the National League as the leagues above. In the end, it was the right decision.

“Through all the tiers in English football, people are going to struggle financially, but for National League teams, not having home games is enormous.

“I understand they had to find a happy medium but in the end it was the only decision they could make.”

As it stands, the players are due back in for training on Monday, though there is a chance that may change depending on further updates from the Government.

“The players have stood down for a week and they’re doing things themselves at home,” Watson explained.

“The plan is to start training again on Monday but between now and Monday, a lot of things can happen.

“There seems to be new legislation and advice on a daily basis, but as we’re talking, we’ll start training and preparing for the game on the fourth of April.”

Watson, meanwhile, like football fans and people working in the sport across the country, will find himself somewhat at a loss on the weekend.

In the absence of fixtures to preside over, Watson will still be keeping up managerial responsibilities, and will plug the gap with popular culture.

“I’m the same as everybody else,” he said. “I’ve got the feeling we’ll go into lockdown, virtually, as a nation.

“With no football and nothing live to watch, I’ll be doing a fair bit of internet research, looking at clubs and transfers, putting plans together for next season when things are back on track.

“Apart from that, I’m not a big Xbox fan so I’ll just be catching up on box-sets and movies.”