ALL fixtures in the National League North and South have been halted for two weeks amid an ongoing row over league payments.

The news, announced on Friday, January 22, means Saturday's scheduled Chester FC game at basement side Blyth Spartans has been formally postponed.

Also formally postponed are Chester FC's home games against Southport and Darlington, which were due to be played on January 26 and 30 respectively.

It comes amid ongoing discussions between the National League and clubs on funding arrangements for the rest of the season.

A number of National League North and South clubs previously said they had been under the impression an £11 million package of financial support for January to March, split between National League, National League North and National League South clubs, would be in the form of grants and not loans.

However, during divisional meetings on Wednesday between the league and clubs, it was confirmed the £11m package would be in the form of loans.

Shortly before the league suspension was announced, Telford, Alfreton, Bradford Park Avenue, Blyth, Curzon Ashton, Darlington, Farsley Celtic, Gateshead, Guiseley, Kettering, Southport and Spennymoor Town all joined together in signalling their intent for the National League North season to be stopped.

A joint statement read: “Whilst the integrity of the National League is important, we do not value this above the safety and wellbeing of our families, staff, volunteers or that of our heroic workers who are tackling this pandemic on the frontline.

“Furthermore, we have now been asked to consider loans against our clubs and we are quite simply not prepared to trade whilst insolvent.

“Therefore, we are calling for the immediate suspension of the league competition to allow the National League, FA and the DCMS time to find a solution that is acceptable to all.

“This suspension will allow us the time to lobby our respective MPs and carry out our own financial risk assessments against avoiding a Null and Void scenario.

“An inability to secure acceptable funding to cover Covid-19 testing and the loss of fans will continue to render us insolvent and we are not prepared to prolong this beyond the 29th January 2021.

“We are duty bound as mere custodians of our clubs and will do everything we can to ensure we do not place any avoidable further financial burden now or in the future upon our community assets.

“Quite simply, 66 clubs would not have willingly participated in any footballing competition which initiated playing contracts, without assurances.”

Chester FC had, in a club statement, said: "As a club we have been clear and consistent in our view that playing behind closed doors was not viable without grants. This was the basis upon which we decided to commence the season in October and remains our position.

"We can confirm we have responded to the National League advising we are prepared to consider continuing the season on the basis outlined in option two [National League to operate a loan from Sport England to be distributed to clubs as grants], but this is subject to the league providing satisfactory answers to a number of questions, including how the grants will be distributed, the impact on future central payments and how these will be calculated for each club.

"We would also want to understand what support will be available for clubs to implement COVID-19 testing to bring the health and safety of our league in line with the EFL and Premier League as this remains paramount, and how this will be funded.

"Like you, we are supporters of our club as well as custodians and our desire and hope is that we can continue playing, however this cannot be at any cost.

"The failure to honour the assurances given to clubs when agreeing to start the season without fans and the unfair allocation of grants covering October to December, as well as the decision not to publish the findings and recommendations of the independent review panel, has placed many clubs in an unacceptable predicament.

"We again appeal to the DCMS, The FA and the National League to work together to protect these precious football clubs and the essential role they play in their communities."