Club chairman Lee Sharples believes the Blues can look forward to a bright future when football returns to Shawbridge.

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic brought the BetVictor Northern League to an end last month with the Football Association ruling that results in all divisions below National League level would be expunged.

That rendered the Blues’ results null and void but can’t disguise a season of major progress on the pitch in a first year in charge for boss Phil Brown.

“For me, I couldn’t have asked for any more from Phil and the players he brought in,” said Sharples, who also officially took over his new post last summer.

“I wanted us to win more games than we lost and we did that.

“You always want more and think you can do more but to effectively finish sixth is amazing after finishing 18th last season.

“Phil had to build a team and his drive and passion have been amazing and he has really given us something to build on next season.

“When the new season starts, we will already have a team, which we will just be looking to add to and strengthen in certain positions, which we know about and have spoken about.”

Ending the season early and missing out on gate receipts and other match-day revenue will have serious financial ramifications across non-league football.

The Blues have lost their final three games but thanks to the outstanding support of around 250 season-ticket holders, on-going fund-raising initiatives and the financial prudence of the board, Sharples expects Clitheroe to be able to ride out the storm.

“The club is fine, financially, thanks to how well it has been run in the past,” the chairman added.

“It hasn’t had the effect it will have on some clubs. We are fortunate with that thanks to the work Anne, Andrew and Chris did prior to me coming in.

“Missing the last few home games will have an impact but we should be fine for next season and when we know when that will happen, we can start planning for it.”

Work is continuing behind the scenes, with groundsman Dan Stuttard and fellow volunteer helper Jim Wilson working alongside (but not too close!) a contractor on re-seeding and upgrading the playing surface at Shawbridge.

Their efforts have already played a large part in raising the standard of the pitch and the surrounds, with further ground improvements also in the pipeline.

And with better results on the pitch and bigger crowds off it, Sharples has welcomed a feel-good factor he hopes will continue to build.

“You never know how anything will pan out,” he said.

“But I think we’ve done what we said we wanted to at the AGM last summer.

“We wanted the fans to enjoy coming to watch their team and to feel more integrated into the club.

“I think that has happened and I thank them all for their support this season.

“We hope they stay fit and well during this difficult time and look forward to the day when we can all be back watching and enjoying football at Shawbridge.”