Altrincham have been given fresh hope that they could yet challenge for promotion to the Vanarama National League after being told play-offs in the North and South divisions may be held after all.

Robins officials were reluctantly forced to accept last week that their season was at an end and their promotion dream dashed after league bosses conveyed an apparent ruling from the Department of Culture Media and Sport that the two second tiers of the National League did not count as elite sport and therefore could not stage play-offs.

The furore that followed, however, has prompted a rethink and forced the league to soften their stance and, in an unexpected about-turn, throw open the possibility of a second team from each division being promoted.

The protests were led by York City and the South division's Havant & Waterlooville, who both lobbied their local Conservative MPs to challenge the DCMS view that clubs at Alty's level did not belong in the elite sport category, given all the players and coaching staff were paid employees and some were even full-time.

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The pressure paid off, with the league's draft resolution from last week finally being sent to clubs earlier this week and offering them the chance to vote for a final league table based on a points-per-game average and the staging of play-offs, "subject to Government guidance".

The alternative would be to declare the season null and void, and while they anxiously awaited news of the outcome, Alty bosses made it clear how they hoped it would pan out with a decision possible today.

"We have made it clear all along that we would willingly meet the considerable expense involved – likely to be in the region of £50,000 – for meeting all the requirements for participating in the play-offs,'"said Alty joint-chairman Bill Waterson.

"That is still the case, and we will cast our vote accordingly.

"We must wait and see what the outcome is, but at least there seems to be a chance, which wasn't the case a week ago."