IT'S been a tough week at 1874 Northwich, culminating in the news today that prolific striker Scott McGowan has been signed by Nantwich Town.

The club will not be starting their league campaign tomorrow, as initially planned, nor will they be playing their scheduled fixture on Tuesday.

And this follows their appearance in the Macron Cup Final last Saturday being called off the night before.

While the fixture disruption is Covid-19 related, McGowan's exit is all about a personal challenge.

“It’s been an extremely difficult decision to leave the club," reads a statement from McGowan, who scored 132 goals in 192 games over his five years with the club.

"Playing for 1874 has been an experience like no other and I want to thank everybody who has been a part of it. I’d like to thank Paul (Bowyer) and Wayne (Goodison, co-managers) for putting their faith in me to play down the middle and help me perform the way I have the last few seasons.

"The opportunity to play for a club at a higher level is something that doesn’t come around very often and I want to test myself to see if I can do it at that level.

"Finally, I’d like to thank the club’s unbelievable supporters. Whether it’s the volunteers behind the scenes or those watching us on a matchday singing my name, it has been a pleasure to play for 1874 and an experience I will never forget.”

Northwich Guardian:

Goodison added: “Obviously disappointed that Scott has chosen to leave, though the opportunity to test himself and see if he’s capable of being as successful with a totally different club at a higher level is certainly something he should attempt.

"He’s been fantastic as a player and more importantly as a person for me to deal with. He knows my thoughts on him, and I wish him and his family the best of luck for his future, both in and out of football.”

For 1874, he scored the winning goal in the Mid Cheshire Cup Final against Northwich Victoria and played a key role in the club's run to the FA Vase semi-finals in 2017/18 and the triumphant Macron Cup campaign of the following season.

The club's board of directors have issued a statement regarding the postponement of the team's opening two league games amid the tighter restrictions being placed on life across the north west due to the rise in coronavirus rate.

The statement reads: "As you will be aware the situation in the North West of England regarding Covid-19 is extremely serious. A large part of the area that we cover as part of the NWCFL is currently subject to local lockdown restrictions.

"You will recall our Macron Cup game at Runcorn Town was unfortunately suspended due to the shared concerns of Halton Council and Cheshire West and Chester Council. Understandably, these councils are very concerned about the potential of football crowds to increase the spread of the disease across regional lines.

"As a result of the decision to suspend last Saturday’s cup game, 1874 Northwich have been in daily communication with the relevant authorities at CWAC, who have provided a comprehensive guide to the conditions that they require to allow football to proceed in Cheshire West.

"Cases of coronavirus are increasing in Cheshire West.

"Leaders of Cheshire West and Chester are in talks with Cheshire East Council, the county MPs and the government over additional coronavirus restrictions in the borough.

"CWAC have already applied for extra “enforcement powers” from the government in its fight against coronavirus.

"Given that events are changing on a daily basis creates significant problems in preparing for a match, implementing new directives in such a short period of time and in communicating important information to all potential spectators.

"In particular, it is very difficult to manage our online ticketing system, which we have introduced to reduce the amount of cash being handled, to reduce queuing at turnstiles and to aid our track and trace systems.

"As a club we are working extremely hard to ensure that we comply with this new raft of requirements from the council, which come on top of the guidelines issued previously by the FA and DCMS that we had to follow in order to start allowing fans again back in August.

"CWAC have made it clear that 1874 Northwich are not being singled out in this respect, all local clubs have been informed of these enhanced requirements and have made it clear that any club found not to be complying may face serious sanctions should spectators be allowed into grounds that they class as not safe.

"In light of this the board of 1874 Northwich FC have requested via the league that our first home game on Saturday 3rd October and the following game on the Tuesday evening be postponed.

"We fundamentally do not believe it correct to play behind closed doors and hopefully a postponement will ensure that we are able to fully comply with the council’s requirements in time to allow us to play our FA Vase game on the 10th October in front of supporters.

"We understand that this course of action is regrettable, however our first priority must be to ensure the safety of our supporters, our players and officials, and thereafter to safeguard the continued success and capacity of football at our level to continue."

Additional reporting: Matt Waters, Luke Bushnell-Wye