GUISELEY chairman Gary Douglas is adamant that his club can not begin their National League North campaign behind-closed-doors.

Despite, the Lions starting their season in the FA Cup second qualifying round on October 3, the National League are still yet to publish any fixtures or decide on a date for their return.

The problem they have is that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) are still forbidding any amount of fans attending 'elite' football club's stadia.

There are numerous clubs across their three leagues holding this status, including Guiseley, who depend on gate receipts to function.

Douglas believes his club should be stripped off the title so they can get fans back through the turnstile.

He said: "The big problem we have got is we are not allowed crowds at Guiseley at the moment. We are deemed to be in the elite tier in our sport, so they haven’t given us the go ahead to have fans yet.

"The league is appealing to the DCMS to get us removed from elite status so we can do that. If we can get 30% of our home capacity, we would be happy.

"One thing we are keen to know is how many fans will turn up. I suspect there will be some people who don’t want to be mixing so that may effect crowds.

"I think the majority will come and a lot of it boils down to common sense. If you wear a mask and distance themselves. We have worked out it restricts our seating capacity hugely, but it is doable.

"They (National League) are hoping to start the week after (the FA Cup weekend). But, we have said in chairman meetings not unless we get crowds in. If we don’t have crowds, we have got no money.

"We have a budget every year and we base it on our average gate and sponsorship. As good as the squad is they won’t play for nothing."

Guiseley have been able to announce a series of pre-season friendlies. Although, only one is at home due to the crowd issue.

The Nethermoor side begin their preparations on Saturday at Thackley before travelling to Worksop Town on the Tuesday.

Trips to Nuneaton Borough (Sep 5) and Yorkshire Amateur (Sep 10) follow the week after, before a home match with Halifax Town (Sep 12). Chesterfield (Sep 26) away is the final game pencilled in currently.

It is the absence of the annual friendly with now-Premier League team Leeds United that will effect the Lions' budget the most though.

Douglas added: "Thanks to Steve Parkin, we get a pre-season friendly with Leeds United which usually brings us substantial money.

"But, Leeds have told us they won’t be coming because, of Covid, they can’t afford to come and mix with us.

"Obviously we couldn’t have the usual 3000 people that we usually have in here for it. That has put a huge dent in our finances this year.

"We are very lucky with Russ (O'Neill) and Marcus (Bignot). They said to me 'if the budget is hard, we will still put a team out'.

"We have worked on a bit of a tighter budget, but we have retained most of the squad and added a few."