Chester have finally been confirmed as Altrincham’s first opponents in the Vanarama National League North play-offs, and the Robins will prepare for the tie with a clean bill of health after achieving a 100 per cent success rate in Covid-19 testing.

There had been doubts about Chester’s willingness to meet substantial Covid-related costs for participating in the play-offs, but they were dispelled on Monday evening when the club issued a statement, saying the board had unanimously agreed to provide the necessary funding.

It means Alty will now take on their Cheshire rivals in an eliminator at The J.Davidson Stadium on either Saturday July 18 or the following day, with the winners facing York City away in the semi-finals a week later.

As all the promotion hopefuls in the North and South Divisions wait for official FA approval for the play-offs to proceed, which is widely seen as a formality, Alty can claim to have stolen a march on their opening opponents.

While Chester have yet to arrange initial medical checks for their staff, Alty’s players have already cleared that hurdle and are resuming training, in readiness for a long-awaited return of football at their Moss Lane home.

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Last Thursday evening, at the ground, the entire playing squad and management team underwent Covid-19 testing, and everyone involved was declared free of the virus, effectively giving Phil Parkinson and his players the all-clear to step up their preparations and build up fitness levels.

The testing regime was supervised by club safety officer Nigel Bunce, recently appointed as Alty's Covid-19 officer, in line with National League instructions, and the club's chief medical officer, Dr Rob Jackson, who implemented strict access controls and a mandatory "one-way" system in the stadium to manage the process.

Commenting on the hive of activity behind the scenes to ensure Alty have the best chance of succeeding in the play-offs, co-chairman Bill Waterson said: "There is a huge amount of work to be carried out to meet the criteria laid down by the National League, and the club are responding accordingly, including a board call every couple of days to review progress.

"Director Rob Esteva and manager Phil Parkinson are talking every single day to ensure that everything on the playing side, from training venues to player availability and even potential friendlies ahead of the play-offs, is under control."

"The question of televising the ties, in both North and South divisions, is still up for discussion, with the National League board working with our broadcaster BT in an attempt to finalise plans.’

Should the league fail to reach an agreement with BT over coverage, Alty will seek permission to stream live any game they are involved in.