THE waiting to kick-off a new campaign will finally be over for West Fife's non-league sides this weekend as they begin the 2020-21 league season - as it stands.

Lowland League Kelty Hearts; East of Scotland League, Premier Division pair Crossgates Primrose and Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts; and First Division duo Oakley United and Rosyth are due to take to the field in a competitive league game for the first time since March.

Yesterday (Wednesday), the Scottish Government announced new measures to combat a rise in Coronavirus cases, which will take effect from tomorrow (Friday) for 16 days.

In five health board areas - Ayrshire and Arran, Forth Valley, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire and Lothian - those included no adult (18+) contact sports, except professional sports, indoor or outdoor.

That led to questions being raised over whether the East of Scotland League, tier six of the Scottish football pyramid, would start but league bosses released a statement late last night.

It read: "This afternoon the East of Scotland League observed the new government regulations, restricting outdoor adult contact sport in five health board areas for 16 days, with exceptions for "professional sport".

"Our league is due to start this weekend after seven months of shutdown following great efforts and much sacrifice by our clubs, officials and players.

"As of 11pm tonight, 7 October, we have not received any guidance or instruction from the Scottish FA regarding any alterations in status for our clubs within these five areas.

"We understand clubs from these five areas in other semi-professional leagues such as SPFL1, SPFL2, Highland and Lowland are expecting to proceed this weekend.

"As our league contains 20 full SFA member clubs, and more professional players than the Highland League and Lowland League combined, we anticipate such definition of "professional" will include ourselves."

If, as anticipated, play does commence, no fans will be permitted to watch as current COVID-19 restrictions do not permit spectators to attend football matches yet.

That has caused concern over the viability of clubs to be able to play, the longer punters aren't allowed through the turnstiles, but, while Primrose boss Alan Campbell shares similar worries, he says his team have to put it to the back of their minds and focus on the job in hand.

After securing their place comfortably in the Premier Division for a second season last term, they open their campaign with a tough trip to Linlithgow Rose on Saturday, followed by a match at Jeanfield Swifts on Tuesday.

"I'm delighted we've got competitive football back again after such a long time, and Saturdays will be the norm for me," he said.

"But at the same time, I'm a bit perplexed by some of the rules and regulations. No changing rooms in the winter is quite concerning I have to say, and no crowds at our level I just think can't go on for more than maybe a couple of months. That concerns me a bit but I'm happy from a selfish point of view to get my Saturdays back to normal and get back playing.

"One of the things I'll probably be saying to our players, and even our backroom staff, is we've just got to forget about all that and put it to the back of our minds. We've got a game to prepare for this week, and fixtures are going to come thick and fast, so we need to forget about all that and get prepared for the games we've got.

"If we were to finish round about where we did last season it would probably be reasonably good but we're looking to just keep trying to progress and be competitive. It's a hard league and, as usual, no-one fancies us to do well, so we'll fly under the radar, be underdogs and hopefully surprise a few teams."

Joining them in the Premier are the Swifts, who were promoted as the best runners-up from Conference A and B of the First Division in just their second season as a senior side.

They start at Tynecastle, who finished ahead of them as champions, before going to Whitehill Welfare on Tuesday.

Manager Grant Brough, who has completed deal for former Dunfermline midfielder Finn Graham, said: "It's a difficult one because you're desperate to get the games kicked off but, in the same breath, turning up and getting stripped at the side of the park, or coming actually stripped, is not conducive to good football, preparation-wise.

"It's a big game because Tynecastle won the league at a canter. You don't quite know what to expect because Calum Elliot has now left and is away to Tranent as manager, and I believe they lost last season's top goalscorer, but again, I believe they've been active bringing boys in.

"It's going to be a tough game but these are the games you want.

"You can't look at that league and think, 'I want them, that'll be an easy game', because they're all hard games. I don't really think there's a bad team in it."

Oakley United, in Conference B, open with a home derby against Lochgelly Albert and boss Stewart Kenny said: "The fact pre-season is done in September is brutal because you can't do the things you'd normally do in a pre-season.

"You're spending that much time trying to utilise the light you've got to build up guys' fitness that it took me to last Saturday, when our game called off, that I said I'm not taking another friendly, as that was the best chance we've had for shape training and having a wee game between ourselves and doing stuff that you'd normally do back in July.

"We've got to get on with it. The players have been brilliant; they understand the situation.

"We're looking forward to Saturday and it'll be good to get a competitive game under our belt. I don't like the conditions it's under but, at the end of the day, I don't make the rules."

Rosyth, who stepped up from the juniors for this season, host Kirkcaldy & Dysart in Conference A on Saturday, before Kennoway Star Hearts visit on Tuesday evening.

Barry Ferguson's Kelty Hearts, meanwhile, opened their Betfred Cup campaign at home to St Johnstone last night (Wednesday) and gave a good account of themselves during a 2-1 defeat.

In an evenly-contested first half, Premiership Saints took the lead in first half stoppage time when Jason Kerr headed home Craig Conway's corner.

Chris Kane's header doubled the advantage for Callum Davidson's side on the hour mark and, although captain Michael Tidser's low strike brought the hosts back into it with 20 minutes left, the Perth side held on.

Kelty host Edinburgh University on Saturday as they begin the defence of their Lowland League title, before travelling to Dundee United in the Betfred Cup on Tuesday.