STEVE Cunningham says Colne’s historic cup runs have probably saved his club from going out of business but he fears for others after it was announced the non-league football season has ended.

After a meeting of National League System officials, it was announced that clubs competing in steps three to six – including East Lancashire teams in the Betvictor League and North West Counties – have had all their results expunged.

The announcement will hit Ramsbottom United the hardest on the pitch as they were challenging Workington for the BetVictor League North West Division title and almost certain to finish in the play-off places.

But Cunningham’s concerns are what will happen to clubs off the pitch.

“This decision could hit a lot of clubs very hard and my worry is some might go out of business,” said the Reds boss.

“Put it this way, had we not had those two really good cup runs, we would have been in serious trouble. Had it not been for the £50,000 we earned, we could well be out of business, the gates locked with the padlocks on.”

Colne made history when they reached the FA Cup fourth qualifying round – before losing 5-0 to Gateshead – then reached the FA Trophy third qualifying round, losing 3-2 to Southport.

Cunningham said there was no easy option for the league to make but said he felt sorry for his old teammate Chris Willcock at Rammy.

“There was never going to be a decision that pleased everyone,” said Cunningham. “I don’t think the points per game method would have been right so in my opinion, this is they only way to have done it.”

He added: “I feel really sorry for Chris, he’s a good mate of mine.

“Rammy have been in the top two or three all season and were going to finish in the play-offs so it is really tough on them.”

In the NWCL, Barnoldswick have finished in 15th place in the Premier Division, one place above Padiham.

In First Division North, AFC Darwen were eighth, Nelson 14th and Bacup 18th.

Cunningham will now use this as a chance to take some time away.

“I’ve been involved in football at this level since I was 16 and I’m 40 now,” he said. “So this is a chance to put football on the back burner, spend quality time with the family and recharge the batteries.”