Part 4: York’s 2020/21 season kicks off amid positive Covid-19 tests and funding disputes

THE situation had started to look more precarious as the furore over funding intensified.

To add to the mix, York had been struggling with in-house Covid cases - of which a high-profile instance was to emerge.

Uncertainty surrounds the National League North season

January 8 – York confirm manager Steve Watson has tested positive for coronavirus. Assistant Micky Cummins prepares to take charge of the side’s trip to Boston United, which is called off following further infections in the York squad. Games against Boston, Fylde and Gateshead games are postponed. The latter was meant to be the first at the Community Stadium, which is now set for Curzon Ashton on January 30.

January 12 – Twelve National League North clubs send a letter calling on “Oliver Dowden, the DCMS and the FA not to betray the trust National League clubs placed in them by agreeing to commence the season and to ensure the additional £11m in support is in the form of grants, not loans”. York City are again not among the signatories.

January 19 – York City chairman Jason McGill states that he wants the season to continue and says that he believes City can survive without fans, with Godfrey’s sale providing “quite significant funding”.

January 22 – The seasons at National League North and National League South are suspended for a fortnight amid continuing disagreements over funding. York release a statement saying: “We feel strongly that the season should have continued. Of course, we understand that individual clubs must represent their own views and interests. However, we feel disappointed that this view wasn’t shared by the National League board.”

The DCMS release a statement saying: “It is untrue to suggest funding to the National League was ever promised as all grants and they have been unable to substantiate this claim.”

January 25 – The 2020/21 North Riding County FA Senior Cup is cancelled.

January 27 – In addition to the Winter Sports Survival Package loans, clubs are told they can also apply for grants if the loans are demonstrably unaffordable.

January 28 – A formal "resolution to consider the outcome of the season" is announced by the National League on Thursday, to be received by clubs the following Monday. Precise details are not revealed.

York sporting director Dave Penney is among the participants in a virtual meeting with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on "how the Government can make the best decisions to support the National League".

National League clubs are invited to a meeting with Sport England the following day or the Tuesday after to discuss funding.

Late on Thursday, 16 clubs publish a joint statement calling for the season to be "curtailed no later than Friday, February 5 to allow all clubs to be assessed for grants".

Part 6: A slow slide towards the end