ENGLAND Hockey have pushed back the suspension of all activity in the sport until June 30.

The governing body had put an initial deadline of April 15 in place earlier this month, but clubs across Oxfordshire always felt that was optimistic.

A statement read: “With the continuing social restrictions caused by Covid-19, this extension is pragmatic in the circumstances and provides clarity for our clubs, players, officials and volunteers.

“We have asked that this national position is replicated at a local level by counties, leagues and independent hockey providers.

“It is hugely disappointing to curtail hockey activity in this way and there will be many league and cup competitions which will not now reach their natural conclusion.”

Leagues at the national level, where Oxford Hawks’ top men’s and ladies teams play, had just one fixture left when play was stopped.

But the longer suspension means those games will now not be played.

Fortunately for Hawks, their sides were not involved in the promotion or relegation shake-ups, which will now be determined by the England Hockey Board.

Recommendations will be made next month.

Speaking before the announcement of the new date, Neil Biggs, treasurer at Oxford Hawks, said: “We doubt there is any solution that will be universally acceptable.

“Most of our teams at Hawks, including the ladies and men’s firsts, sit comfortably in their respective league tables so if the season were to be concluded as things stand, we wouldn’t have any real complaints.

“But other clubs, we’re sure, would take a different view, especially those currently occupying relegation places and who could theoretically play themselves out of relegation if outstanding matches were played.

“This is going to be the case across all sports so perhaps some guidance from on high, maybe from Sport England, would be appropriate.”

Decisions will then have to be made by the leagues at a regional level, where the rest of the county’s teams compete.

Oxford, whose first team had already won Division Two of the South Clubs’ Women’s Hockey League, should be comfortable about going up.

But it is more complicated at Witney, where their ladies are sitting second in Division One, in pole position to seal a long-awaited return to the national level.

But with three games outstanding, they only have a three-point gap to the two teams below them.

James Bartrip, Witney’s fixture secretary, said: “The ladies could go into the Conference – it’s many years since they were that high.

“But would there be a challenge from the teams in third or fourth?”

Financially the situation does not appear as severe as in football, but the loss of pitch hire and end of season festivals are still expected to run into the thousands from some.

In the meantime, clubs are doing what they can to stay connected.

At Wallingford, men’s captain Connor Blakey has started ‘Wally Wednesday’, setting challenges on Facebook and inviting members to share their attempts.