Any other time, the 8th of November would be the most the anticipated day in Hayes and Yeading football club’s calendar: a home FA Cup first round tie against League Two opposition, Carlisle United.

Yet after the government’s announcement of new national COVID-19 restrictions and the subsequent suspension of non-league football, Sunday’s game will be not only be behind closed doors, but could be the club’s last until December.

An FA statement on Tuesday announced that all fixtures and training for ‘non-elite’ clubs, those below Step 2 of the National League System, would be postponed until Wednesday 2nd December, the same applying to the lower tiers of the women’s game as well as to grassroots football.

However, the weekend’s FA Cup fixtures have been given the green light, meaning the Southern League Premier South’s Hayes and Yeading will be one of ten ‘non-elite’ clubs still in the competition permitted to train as usual ahead of their tie.

Tim Fuell, Head of Press and Media at the club, has been busy leading preparations for a paradoxical weekend.

He said: “It’s like being invited out to the best restaurant in town, but you’ve got to go on your own.

“It should be a really exciting time for everybody involved at the club, but it’s going to be a bit of a damp squib really.

“I know the whole world is very surreal at the moment, but for many people, fans included, football was the one moment of the week that was normal.

“On Sunday they’re all going to have to watch from home, they’re not even going to be able to go round and watch the game with their family. It’s just all very strange.

“It’s still the greatest cup competition in the world and good for everybody involved, but the edge has gone from it really.”

Given that the club can only train whilst in the FA Cup, the disappointment of the SkyEx Community Stadium stand’s being empty on Sunday is compounded by the fact the team is effectively competing for the chance to play any form of football for the next month.

This uncertainty is reflective of the club’s general reaction towards the new restrictions; the Hillingdon based side were one of many non-league clubs faced with the daunting prospect of navigating the various challenges posed by the pandemic and first period of lockdown.

Fuell explained: “It was a tough time. Just before football came back we’d all been gearing up to try and make sure the stadium was as COVID secure as required, installing new hand sanitation points, new gates where we were checking people in at games.

“That almost kept us busy to that extent, whereas now it’s very much that everybody is in limbo because you’re just looking at the calendar.

“If players haven’t been able to train together, I don’t really think it’s realistic that football will then start on that first weekend in December.”

The financial difficulties of the pandemic, accentuated by the absence of fans, have been acutely felt by non-league clubs, and Hayes and Yeading’s experience has been no different.

Fuell said: “It’s difficult because clubs still have outgoings to keep and other overheads, and we really haven’t been able to have the revenue streams we normally expect.

“Even when we had been allowed fans in, I don’t think any club in the world survives just on game receipts alone and that’s really the only thing we’ve been able to make any money from.”

Win or lose on Sunday, the magic of the FA Cup will feel very different this year.

You can watch Hayes and Yeading v Carlisle United on BBC Sport's website and on iPlayer at 12:45pm on Sunday.