The future of the SSE Airtricity League season will likely be decided today as clubs meet again to land on a final format for how to conclude the year ahead.
Sport for Business understands that a decision is close and that financial considerations are no longer a block to how things will play out but that a big gap remains between the wishes of the majority of clubs in the two divisions.
Premier League clubs want to play out the campaign with a simple one up, one down promotion and relegation. Clubs in the first division are pushing for a retention of the play offs and a rise to 12 clubs in the top flight next year.
There are reports that an alternative which arose during yesterday’s discussions of restarting the campaign and playing a simple home and away League over 18 match days, giving room in the schedule for play-offs could also be considered but that would be a tough pill for teams like Shamrock Rovers and Cabinteely who would give up the three point advantages they had built up in unbeaten starts over five and three games respectively.
The European adventures of Dundalk, Bohemians, Shamrock Rovers and Derry City will have to be accommodated as well and it is expected that there will be some hard talking when the clubs gather again today.
Ultimately it will be the decision of the League and the FAI as opposed to the clubs but the last thing anyone wants or needs is the threat of a legal challenge so consensus is still the prize that is being sought by Gary Owens, Niall Quinn and Fran Gavin.
All sides need to keep in mind that it is the return to action that is most important and that the advantage already ceded to Leagues in England, Germany, Spain and Italy in their earlier return is not extended through the period of the few weeks that will serve as their close season after the end of July.