English football’s major stakeholders will meet on Friday to discuss their options to rescue a season derailed by the coronavirus outbreak.
The Premier League campaign has been postponed until at least April 30 because of the pandemic, but the chances of a return in May look bleak.
We take a closer look at the various scenarios that are likely to be considered in the talks over if and how to finish the season:
GO BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
One option is for clubs to converge on a neutral location in which all remaining games are played behind closed doors, with only essential personnel and broadcasters allowed to attend.
Fixtures would reportedly be played in one or two locations in the Midlands and London.
That could mean players and coaches being quarantined away from their families in World Cup-style camps to avoid infection, with stadiums, hotels and training facilities undergoing a deep clean.
A radical upturn in testing for the virus in the United Kingdom over the next two months is the key to this plan for a number of reasons.
Firstly, to ease players’ concerns of contracting COVID-19 while playing, but also to avoid criticism of privileged professional players being tested with mild or no symptoms if that is not available to the general public and in particular frontline workers.
If the curve of cases is not significantly flattened come the summer the optics for the Premier League to have medical officials at non-essential events would also not be good.
PLAY THE WAITING GAME
Given the massive impact of the virus on society in general, it is seen in some quarters as morally inappropriate for football to return too soon.