FORMER Wanderers man Sam Ashton hopes a premature end to the non-league season does not begin a summer of woe for clubs around the country.

Now at Lancaster City, the Bolton-born keeper had been looking forward to challenging for the play-offs in the Northern Premier League with his new club.

But after the coronavirus crisis put English football on hold at all levels a few weeks ago, Ashton felt it was only a matter of time before they cancelled the 2019/20 season altogether.

The National League now face a decision on whether to follow suit, an outcome which will have a profound effect on the EFL – and potentially his former club, Bolton, with regard to promotions and relegations through the pyramid.

Ashton fears the delay could push some clubs over the edge.

“I think we all appreciate there are things more important than football,” he told The Bolton News. “And once they had stopped the season with a month to go, we almost expected them to cancel the rest of it.

“But there are a lot of clubs, especially in the National League, who invest a lot of money trying to get into League Two. And, honestly, I could see some of them folding.

“Nobody wants that to happen and I would hope that the Football Association have some sort of plan in place to provide money. I am sure they’ll have it.

“But when you look at some of the teams who have put big money into going up this season, there’s a potential disaster waiting to happen.”

As a Bolton fan, Ashton is also anxious to know what the future has in store at the UniBol.

“In a way I’m hoping they re-start the season again and give them a chance to stay up,” he said. “It’ll probably never happen, and would they end up having a points deduction again?”

South Shields topped the table in the Northern Premier League before the season was terminated and Ashton has special sympathy for the North East side.

"I feel really sorry for them because they were going on to win it," he said. "You could understand why they would be really upset.

"We had it in our heads that it was coming to that stage of the season where teams at the top all have to play each other, there are a lot of draws, and I felt we had a good chance of making up some ground. But it wasn't to be."

Ashton, who has juggled his non-league football career alongside being a special needs worker, is currently on lockdown with his three children at home.

He believes the lack of routine will be a challenge for players in the professional game used to leading a more structured existence.

“You get up, go to training, come back home and you are thinking about that next game,” he said. “Even in the non-leagues, aside from that two or three weeks once the season has finished where you can do what you want, you have to look after yourself.

“It’ll be frustrating for players when they haven’t got that outlet.

“I was injured for 16 months and I think it might have given me a bit of a different perspective. When you are in that situation there’s nothing you can do.

“But I’m 34 now and probably coming to the end of my time playing. I was thinking last night ‘is that it? How many more seasons are left?’ “I get out and have a run every night because we’re allowed to – but I’d bet every footballer is missing it right now and it must be hard.”