A CHAOTIC picture is emerging as non-league football clubs across Oxfordshire grapple with how best to prepare for next season.

One of the biggest knock-on issues from the coronavirus crisis is the lack of uniformity across the divisions.

National League South side Oxford City’s first game back is not until October 3, so are opting to call a halt to their training and have a break.

Meanwhile, others are gearing up for their first friendly matches this weekend with competitive fixtures less than a month away.

All clubs now have some firm dates in the calendar, with schedules for the FA Cup, FA Trophy and FA Vase confirmed.

City’s second round qualifying tie in the FA Cup will serve as their comeback fixture, but it is still two months away.

Boss David Oldfield said: “We’re doing a little bit of work and then we’ll stop for a period of time before we come back and start pre-season properly.

“The October 3 start date was later than anticipated, so we just need to tailor our pre-season around that date.

“We need to make sure we’re ready for that first game, because the FA Cup will be big for everybody.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Hellenic League clubs like Ardley United are in the FA Cup extra preliminary round on September 1.

Accordingly, Ardley will step up preparations with a friendly against Bure Park on Saturday.

Their ground was inspected last week to ensure it was compliant with the latest coronavirus regulations, but as with all matches until the start of October it will be played behind closed doors.

Manager Lee Matthews said: “For the friendlies we’re not allowed to use the changing rooms, so the two teams will get changed in the stands.

“It’s a bit like Sunday league football all over again.

“Our main friendly the following Saturday is against Thame United.

“It would normally have been good for gate revenue, but sadly we can’t have any spectators.

“We will lose out a bit financially, but it’s good to be playing again.”

Caught in between the two situations are Southern League clubs, who are unsure exactly when their season will start.

September 19 has been suggested, but nothing has been confirmed.

Andy Whing, who is preparing for his first season in charge at Banbury United, held an intra-squad game last weekend.

They will visit Easington Sports this Saturday for a friendly, but the former Oxford United midfielder admits it is hard to know what is the right course of action.

He said: “The only problem is over-kill with the players.

“We’ve been back for three or four weeks, which is great to get to know the players, but it can’t be a

three-month pre-season.

“It’s challenging and frustrating at times, but we’re making the best of it.”