LANCASHIRE League and Ribblesdale League clubs have been told to "think strongly" about playing friendly fixtures this weekend following ECB recommendations after a rise in coronavirus cases across the area.

The ECB have advised all clubs not to play any non-competitive games after Blackburn with Darwen and Pendle had seen a big spike in new cases – the highest in the country behind Leicester which is already in a local lockdown.

The two boroughs have already implemented pre-lockdown measures and will monitor the situation closely which could result in a full lockdown should figures not drop in the next two weeks.

In a hastily-called Zoom meeting with Lancashire Cricket Foundation chief executive, John Murphy, league officials were told of the ECB’s recommendations but ultimately the decision was down to the clubs.

However, all competitive matches – including those in the The Surridge Sports Valley Challenge Trophy in the Lancashire League – and a number of ‘memorial’ games can go ahead.

“It is a difficult situation to be in,” said Lancashire League chairman Mike Bibby. “We have passed on what we have been told by the ECB and it is up to them.

“We can’t tell them not to play, all we can say is think strongly before going ahead and playing friendly fixtures.

“If they do, we urge them to revisit the risk assessments laid out by the ECB and if they are confident they can abide by them, then it is up to the club to make the decision to play or not.”

As it stands, matches between Bacup and Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall and Haslingden in the The Surridge Sports Valley Challenge Trophy will go ahead as will the Graham Porter Challenge Trophy between Great Harwood and Rishton.

Clitheroe and Ribblesdale Wanderers are also due to compete for the Brian Sims Memorial Trophy.

The Lancashire League is due commence on August 2 with a format that sees clubs split in to four groups.

The Ribblesdale League will start on Saturday, July 25 and chairman Bill Slinger is hoping clubs make the sensible decision not to play this weekend.

“As you can imagine, a lot of friendly fixtures have been arranged for this weekend but as far as I know most of them will not be played,” he said. “The ECB has advised them not to play.”