HELSTON Athletic manager Steve Massey believes a return to competitive action may be sooner than he first expected.

Football has been suspended in England since March amid the coronavirus outbreak, with the majority of the 2019/20 non-league football season being declared null and void on March 26.

The decision to void the campaign denied Massey’s side, who were leading the South West Peninsula League Premier West at the time, the chance to go on and secure their first title at step six.

The Blues’ last game was a 2-1 win at home to Callington Town on March 11.

Massey initially feared a long wait for a return to the pitch, but with the Government’s latest easing of lockdown measures now allowing his team to train in small groups of six, as well as a positive update from his hospitality business, he now has a more optimistic outlook.

He said: “If you’d asked me a fortnight ago I would be saying that I can’t even see us coming back to training even into August, and Phil Hiscox [SWPL secretary] was already making a proviso about even if he’s got a season that is going to be condensed and not even starting until after the new year.

“It’s something I think has now changed, particularly when the FA guidelines that came out the other night, which says you can now go out and train in small bubbles of six as long as you keep your distance.

“I can see us maybe not being that far away from maybe when even the season was due to start. I think we might even see some competitive football before August is finished.”

He added: “There was nobody more vocal than me about saying, ‘Why are we stopping now, why are we stopping the season?’ and of course as more facts are known about the virus, just how deadly and contagious it is you think, ‘Yeah OK that’s a fair point’, but I honestly do think that football’s probably going to be here sooner rather than later at our level.”

A start date for the 2020/21 season is unknown, with the South West Peninsula League announcing this week that the FA has invited all step five and six leagues to an online meeting to discuss scenarios for next season on Friday, June 19.