BRAINTREE Town and other National League clubs have received an offer of financial aid from the Government which will help them start the season this weekend.

The future of the three leagues - the National League, the National League North and the National League South - had been in doubt after plans to allow spectators into grounds were shelved last week.

The 2020-21 season is due to begin on Saturday, but it was feared that without Government intervention many of the 67 clubs could have faced financial ruin if they did not have matchday revenue to rely on.

Several clubs were vocal in their calls for a Government rescue package and talks with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) over a bailout have been fruitful, with money due to be sent over before the weekend.

The PA news agency understands that the final amount and how the clubs will be paid is still being finalised, but it is enough money to see them through until their fans are allowed back into stadiums.

Dagenham managing director Steve Thompson told the PA news agency: "It is fantastic the Government has realised the importance of the 67 clubs of the National League."

The National League is set to start on Saturday, while National League North and South clubs are in FA Cup qualifying action.

Braintree travel to play Hashtag United in the second qualifying round - but Iron fans will not be able to attend the game.

Because Iron are a National League South side, they are classed as an 'elite' side even when playing a Step Three to Six side.

This means that only home fans will be allowed to attend the FA Cup tie, this weekend.

The tie will take place at Bowers and Pitsea's Len Salmon Stadium.

Hashtag are currently second in the Essex Senior League, having won four of their opening five league matches.

They progressed to the second qualifying round after beating Park View FC, Felixstowe and Walton United and Soham Town Rangers.

Braintree begin their new National League South campaign with a home game against Ebbsfleet United, next Tuesday night.