The Premier League is debating a plan to complete the 2019/20 season in behind-closed-doors matches which take place in strictly-controlled camps in the Midlands and London this summer, according to latest reports.
Football is facing the stark realism that the UK lockdown due to coronavirus will not allow life to get back to normal for six months.
And while the first priority is to ensure safety and minimise deaths, sport authorities are trying to come up with ideas to try to limit the impact on this season and next as much as possible.
Leagues below the National League have already been scrapped but that is a nightmare scenario and The Independent claims a plan is “gaining traction” for isolated World Cup-style camps in June and July.
They write: “The huge broadcasting contracts and other financial concerns have increased the pressure on clubs to complete the season, but one considerable advantage to the idea is that it would be a ‘TV mega-event’.
“The Independent has been told that plans have been drawn up to televise all remaining 92 matches, with a handful on every day over the summer months.
“It is this aspect that has drawn increased government backing, too, as they like the idea of the population engrossed in the national sport, especially in the event that lockdown measures are tightened or extended.”
Clubs would be confined to separate, quarantined hotels away from families knowing that “even one case (of Covid-19) could derail the whole plan”.
Stoke City have nine games to complete in the Championship, where there is much to be decided. West Bromwich Albion and Leeds United have broken away in the top two but at the bottom, only three points separate the Potters in 17th with Charlton five places below in the final relegation spot.
Players are currently training individually and a mini-pre-season is likely to be required if and when restrictions are lifted.
Further meetings are expected to be held this week.
Michael O’Neill, who currently has a Northern Ireland European Championship play-off against Bosnia pencilled in for June, said last week: “With the games obviously being moved to June at this minute in time – which seems a bit of ambitious date, for me, to think they could be played at that time. Obviously the whole situation is uncertain at the time.
“I have no inside information but based on what I see and the daily updates of where the virus is escalating and what potentially lies ahead in the coming weeks, I think it’s ambitious.
“I certainly think it’s ambitious to play international football because I don’t think it’s feasible whenever we do start playing – to then try to fit an international break in the middle of it, when we’re trying to complete games by June 30.
“I’m not sure why they put them in at that date because when they put the ultimatum down to finish seasons by June 30, it didn’t make sense to then add an international break early in June.
“To complete league seasons and have an international date, in my opinion, is fairly ambitious.”