PICKERING Town and Tadcaster Albion will not face each other on New Year's Day.

The Pikes' management committee, citing recent coronavirus announcements, has decided to postpone both the December 26 home game against Marske United and the January 1 trip to Taddy.

The Northern Premier League had originally anticipated a full festive fixture schedule after announcing the return of competitive action earlier this month.

However, the board has since publicly acknowledged - after another meeting with clubs - that sides across the league felt they would be staging fixtures at a financial loss and responded by making Boxing Day and New Year's Day league fixtures optional. 

Tadcaster's visit to Brighouse Town has also been called off.

A Pickering statement reads: "The management committee considered our position and agreed that we should postpone both fixtures.

"We all love our football and we are very aware how much our supporters were looking forward to seeing their team play again.

"However, in light of recent Covid announcements, we believe this is the right decision to help protect our club's long-term future, alongside our duty of care to our players, staff, volunteers, supporters and our local community."

Tadcaster Albion said: "We regret the postponement of both our matches over the festive period.

"The games away to Brighouse (Boxing Day) and at home to Pickering (New Years Day) will be rescheduled as and when league programme resumes.

"We fully understand why both Brighouse and Pickering have reached their decision having regard to recent Covid-19 announcements; the current restrictions surrounding games being played at Steps 3 and 4; and the duty of care to staff, players, volunteers, and supporters.

"Further details are awaited from the Trident Leagues (Northern Premier, Southern and Isthmian) after the next Government announcement on December 30."

The NPL statement explains: "The principal issue raised by clubs was that, as a result of the original decision, clubs were effectively being forced to stage competitive fixtures at a financial loss.

"The league recognises the impact of lost secondary revenue from clubhouses etc. As part of our lobbying of government we continue to press for clubs to be able to open their bars. However, with so many pubs and restaurants closed we have to be realistic. 

"While the league board has every sympathy with clubs experiencing financial difficulties, its primary responsibility lies with the competition as a whole. Clubs have shown great ingenuity in generating revenues, even during the temporary suspension of competitive fixtures.

"The league board’s decision to restart the season on December 26 was unanimous, although the board recognised that restarting would be challenging for all. 

"The NPL wants to avoid a second consecutive season being declared null and void. Clubs should therefore bear in mind that any further fixture suspensions could increase this risk.

"It has, therefore, been decided that playing league fixtures on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day will now be optional."