THIS week saw the most significant step in the return of non-league football since it was suspended in March amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Ninety-nine days have passed since the most recent matches in the National League and various grassroots leagues were played on March 14 as the country prepared to enter lockdown.

With the country beginning to emerge on the other side of the first wave of the virus, attention is turning to how it will restart several aspects of ‘normal’ life, with sport very much on that list.

Those plans gathered pace on Friday when the FA held a meeting with representatives of leagues at steps five and six of the English National League System to discuss scenarios for the 2020/21 season.

READ MORE: September restart is most likely scenario, says Football Association

Although no decisions were made in the meeting, it helped to answer several questions on the lips of non-league football fans.

Here is what we know so far.

When will the season start?

The FA listed four options for the start of the season in its meeting with leagues on Friday.

The first is a normal start in August, although this is unlikely given this is only a matter of weeks away.

The second, which the FA currently believes is the most likely option, is a September or October start.

The third is to start between November and January, which the FA feels is also unlikely, while the fourth option of a post-January start is considered a worst-case scenario.

Above all, however, is that a restart will only be permitted when the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport says it can restart.

When will pre-season begin and how long will it be?

This will depend on which of the above options is selected.

Going by the most likely option of September/October, an early September start would mean pre-season could begin in early August, while a late September start could mean a late August/early September pre-season start.

It is believed that the FA is hoping for a shorter pre-season to limit the time for meaningless friendlies and get on with the competitive fixtures as quickly as possible, meaning the scope for pre-season friendlies could be as little as two or three weeks.

Will leagues be played in full?

Again, this depends on which of the four start dates is chosen.

An August start would allow for a full season as normal, while a September/October start would allow leagues to be played in full but would mean that some cup competitions would be sacrificed to do so.

A November-January start would mean a reduced league programme with a half season (playing each team once rather than twice) or leagues being split into two regional divisions both on the table.

The post-January worst-case scenario option could mean that leagues may not return until the 2021/22 season.

READ MORE: Clubs could face midweek fixtures every week into November when season begins

Will cups be played?

It looks almost certain that some cups will be sacrificed next season.

The only way a normal season with cups in their current could happen is if the season begins in August, which is highly unlikely.

The preferred September start would still mean that county cups and league cups would be sacrificed to ensure that leagues and the FA Cup and FA Vase could take place.

The FA is still hoping to run both competitions in full, although the FA Cup may not be possible given a contractual obligation for the third round proper to take place in the first week of January.

The FA Vase has no such restriction, although the early rounds would have to be packed in tighter than usual, with the first three qualifying rounds usually played by the first week of October.

County cups and league cups could still take place with different formats, with the South West Peninsula League suggesting that the top two teams in its two divisions could contest the semi-finals of its Walter C Parson League Cup.

When will the season end?

The FA-mandated end of season date for all non-league divisions will be at the end of April as usual, although they have said that this could be extended into May if necessary.

What if the season is halted again?

The FA is aiming to prevent a repeat of the last few months, when they controversially declared all leagues between steps three and seven of the non-league pyramid null and void.

It has suggested that if a second wave curtailed next season then leagues could be awarded based on a points-per-game method, although this was not confirmed.

Will supporters be allowed to watch?

The FA acknowledged in the meeting that matches will not resume until at least some supporters can be allowed into grounds, given the vital importance of gate receipts and bar takings to non-league clubs.

An initial attendance cap was mooted in the meeting, but not confirmed. A 30 per cent cap was suggested, with SWPL secretary Phil Hiscox telling the Packet that this would be a cap of the maximum attendance a ground could hold.

Hiscox said that ground grading regulations determine a standard ground as having a maximum capacity of 1,500 spectators, with 30 per cent of this being 450.

The highest attendance for a league game in the SWPL in 2019/20 fell below this figure, with 410 watching Falmouth Town beat St Blazey 5-0 at Bickland Park in January.

However, Town had several cup games that exceeded this figure, with their 5-1 win at Helston Athletic attracting 689 spectators, while their 4-2 win at home to Torridgeside attracted 690.

Will clubhouses, changing rooms and tea huts be open?

The FA said in the meeting that it expects all facilities to be open, but with additional safety measures in place.

These measures range from having hand sanitiser available or limiting the number of people using facilities in line with social distancing restrictions.

READ MORE: Clubhouses, tea huts and changing rooms expected to be open, says SWPL secretary

The FA will require all clubs to fill out a risk assessment and draw up an action plan to ensure they are Covid secure.

These will cover such issues as a return to full training/matches, use of facilities e.g. clubhouses and changing rooms, travel to and from games and the volunteer workforce at each club.

When will we know more?

The next steps may hinge on the Government’s next phase of relaxation of lockdown measures, which is due to happen by July 4.

One of the biggest announcements is set to be the decision on hospitality, with pubs, restaurants and holiday accommodation hoping to reopen.

Clubhouses would come into this hospitality bracket, which would be welcome news for football clubs.

The Government is also due to review social distancing measures on Thursday, which could see larger groups being permitted in training, a reduction to one metre for social distancing or maybe even some limited contact training.

The next FA meeting is on July 14, although the agenda for this meeting is currently unknown.