OXFORDSHIRE’S non-league sides are aiming to be back in competitive action within three months.

A presentation by the Football Association to leagues at steps five and six – covered locally by the Uhlsport Hellenic League – has laid out the various plans which could be put in place.

January is seen as a worst case scenario, but clubs are hopeful to be back playing well before the winter.

All of them were shut down by the coronavirus pandemic in March and the date of the restart will determine what the campaign will look like.

The longer the delay, the more upheaval there will be, with suggestions cup competitions could be scrapped and leagues split in two if they cannot play until the winter.

Ian Feaver, chairman at Hellenic League Premier Division side Ardley United, is reassured by the plans and is optimistic.

He said: “They seem to have every scenario covered.

“There’s been indications, but we’re grabbing every word we can to read into things.

“The most likely outcome is September, but anything can change.”

The intention is to restart the whole non-league pyramid at the same time and one area everyone agrees on is games cannot begin until crowds are allowed back.

John Bailey, chairman at South League Division 1 Central side Didcot Town, said: “All non-league clubs rely on their gate money and sponsorship, that’s how they survive.

“To do it behind closed doors, nobody would survive.

“I think we won’t start until September, with maybe full training a bit before that.”

Another division higher, Andy Whing believes even at Banbury United’s level it would be straightforward to go ahead with restricted capacities.

He said: “I think it would be easy to space people out.

“You just have to wait for the guidelines. There’s no point thinking we could be here or there.

“A lot of players don’t want to commit because there’s no date when we are starting back for next season.

“You can’t arrange pre-season games until you know that, so it’s been quite frustrating in that part, but you just have to be patient.

“The only rough dates we’re looking at are early September, but that’s just rumours.”

The impact of lockdown means prize money in the FA Cup, Trophy and Vase will be lower next season.

FA Cup cash before the first round proper has reverted to its level of two years ago – half the amount it was last season – while the other two competitions have seen more modest reductions.

A good run can make a huge difference for clubs financially, but Feaver is philosophical about the cuts.

He said: “Of course it’s a setback.

“You can generate a significant amount of money but we have to offset that with the fact that the FA and various organisations have been absolutely fantastic.

“We have had success with some of the grants to help get through this lockdown.

“You just hope it all resets again the following year.”