HEREFORD Stampede will have to wait until next year to play their much awaited first league match following the cancellation of contact football by the British American Football Association.

The Hereford Racecourse based side had worked for two years to earn their league place and were due to play their first league match in April.

However, the coronavirus pandemic halted the 2020 season before it had time to begin and it has now been cancelled.

"I must admit I expected it to be honest," said head coach Paul Kent.

"It reflects our priority to keep everybody safe. Our sport is a contact sport and moving around the country competing was never going to happen.

"It's extremely disappointing for the lads who have been working really hard to get into the league and will now have to wait until 2021.

"Hopefully we can keep the players engaged and go back into training at some point.

"Our priority is to keep everybody safe, to take 40 players away on a coach to another community and play a contact sport is not complying with government guidelines at the moment."

It has been a difficult few months for Hereford Stampede as flooding in February saw training postponed, they returned shortly before the coronavirus outbreak.

Kent says Hereford Stampede are already preparing for next season and the players have boosted the club's finances by continuing to pay their subs during the break in action.

"The coaches have been getting together virtually to make sure we're prepared for next season," Kent added.

"We have been lucky financially as many of our players have continued paying their subs even though we gave them the option to stop.

"Financially we are okay and we haven't had the outlay of putting on matches which can cost between £500 and £600.

"So we are in a good position and are just trying to keep our players interested.

"Some of our players are key workers and we want to make a heartfelt thanks to them for helping to keep everybody safe."

However, the British American Football Association has not ruled out the playing of flag football this season, potentially starting from August.

With smaller squads flag football removes the tackling element of the game instead removing a flag from the belt of the ball carrier.

"Flag football is how we started three years ago and it brought people together," added Kent

"You just take tags off people and it is more of a throwing game. The logistics involved are also less as it's only five or six-a-side.

"If some of the guys wanted to do it then I don't see why we couldn't organise a team."