Date set for start of Vanarama League season

Torquay United's stadium at Plainmoor. Photo: Micah Crook/PPAUK

Torquay United's stadium at Plainmoor. Photo: Micah Crook/PPAUK - Credit: Micah Crook/PPAUK

The 2020-2021 Vanarama National League will not start until Saturday, October 3 - a full three weeks after the next Premier League and Football League campaigns begin.

The news has taken many people in the game by surprise but it appears to have been driven by at least two factors.

First, the necessity of allowing as many fans as possible into matches and, second, that next year's postponed European Championship finals and Olympic Games should not affect National League squads as they will at higher levels.

Following the PL and EFL announcements that they will start on September 12, many expected the NL to do something similar, give or take a weekend.

Torquay United are due to welcome their strengthened squad back for pre-season training this Saturday, with their first behind-closed-doors friendly at Newton Abbot's Buckland Athletic the following Friday, August 7.

But nine weeks is a long time to be in training, so those plans may be reviewed.

It all means one of the most congested seasons in Torquay's history.

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Even though the final round of league matches will not be until May 29, with play-offs next June, there will be only 35 weekends available.

With FA Cup and FA Trophy ties to be fitted in, it will mean at least 14 midweek fixtures - and that's without postponements.