THE National League season is set to start in less than two months time and Paul Rutherford would love to be turning out for Wrexham on the opening day.

Rutherford is one of three players that Reds’ boss Dean Keates is holding contract discussions with and hopes to sign up for 2020-21.

Wrexham’s 13th campaign in the fifth tier is due to get underway on October 3 and Rutherford, who arrived at The Racecourse in the summer of 2016 and would be the second longest serving player in the squad after Mark Carrington, hopes to strike a deal with Keates so he can extend his spell with the club into a fifth season.

“It is reassuring that I am part of the gaffer’s plans and hopefully we can get everything sorted, and we can go forward together,” said Rutherford, who has made more than 150 league appearances since he was recruited by former Reds manager Gary Mills.

“I love being a part of the football club and I want that to continue but it has got to be possible for everyone because it is not always straightforward.

“These are difficult times but hopefully we can achieve the outcome that we all want because I want to stay.

“I have loved my spell at the club, it is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life and I want that to continue as long as possible.”

Spectators are expected to be allowed into grounds when non-league resumes in early October - albeit at a significantly reduced stadium capacity because of the coronavirus pandemic - and Rutherford fears for the future of clubs if they have to return to action without matchday income.

“A misperception by people is football is back in the Premier League and Championship so that means it must be back,” said Rutherford.

“But Premier League clubs’ matchday revenue is only a small fraction of what their profits and turnover are.

“For a club at our level, below and in League One and League Two, matchday income is a massive part of their revenue and is a different ballgame.

“There are a lot more variables to be taken into consideration and it is a good move by the National League to put the dates back in line with the statement released by Boris Johnson saying crowds can start to return to venues from the beginning of October.

“If it is not straight away, it is important that as many games as possible are played in front of crowds because clubs need that income.

“And if clubs haven’t got that matchday income, there should be a government scheme to help clubs survive because clubs are businesses at the end of the day.

“It is difficult for clubs at this level to operate without their main source of income coming in.”

Rutherford, a 33-year-old winger who has played for Chester, Barrow and Southport, and his Wrexham team-mates have not returned for pre-season training yet.

The Wrexham players could report back on Monday, while the National League are due to announce next season's fixtures on September 8.

“It is weird that we have not been back in pre-season yet but these are unprecedented times,” added Rutherford.

“By the time we got to October last season, we were nearly a third of the way through the season because of the scheduling.

“But it has affected everybody in every walk of life. No-one is exempt from it.”