A commitment to completing the season before the start of July is among the options being considered by Premier League clubs.
The clubs are due meet on Friday in the latest attempt to pick a way through the Covid-19 crisis. It is understood a resolution to consign the 2019-20 campaign to history by 30 June, whether or not the entire schedule of games has been completed, will be among the proposals put to the league.
According to some reports, one of the most significant factors driving the idea to finish by that point – favoured by a large number of the league’s members – is the expiry of numerous player and staff contracts by the end of June.
One executive from a leading club said he was relatively relaxed, with Fifa having issued guidelines last week stating contracts can be extended until such time as the season ends.
But he admitted the subject was on the table, with other clubs worried that English contractual law would render the governing body’s stipulations irrelevant. That would lead to hundreds of potentially unresolved situations should fixtures be honoured into July. In theory an out-of-contract player could then stand himself down from action even if still relied on by his club for the remaining games.
If the proposal to settle the season by 30 June is put to a vote the Premier League would require a 14-club majority. Should it go through the chances of completing a 38-game schedule would appear distinctly remote. Most teams have nine games left while four – Manchester City, Sheffield United, Arsenal and Aston Villa – must play 10.
While clubs in Germany have returned to training that scenario is still some way off in England. Then there would be the problem of getting players match-fit ahead of what, even if the league was cleared to resume behind closed doors at the start of June, would be an intense schedule.
Curtailing the campaign along the proposed lines would not equate to voiding it if some fixtures remain unplayed, although it is unclear what efforts would be required to alight on a final league table that broadly satisfied everyone.
Redoubling efforts to draw a line under 2019-20 would, the clubs believe, mean planning for 2020-21 can take place under less of a cloud and reduce the extent to which two seasons are hampered by coronavirus.