The Premier League's top six clubs warned the rest of the top flight today that voting to curtail the season on health grounds could set a precedent which would lead to the 2020/21 campaign also being scrapped.
In a longer than usual conference call of the 20 clubs that lasted almost four hours a clear divide emerged between the biggest clubs and the rest, many of whom voiced reservations about the Premier League's Project Restart plan than would involve resuming the season next month with matched played at a limited number of neutral grounds.
Sportsmail has learned that the meeting ended with a rallying cry from Premier League officials emphasising their determination to finish the season, with a tentative kick-off date of Friday 12 June, but only after a series of disagreements.
Top six fear that ending this season could set a precedent for the 2020-21 being scrapped
All 20 clubs were involved in a four-hour conference call on Friday to discuss Project Restart
Representatives from several top six clubs are understood to have made the point that delaying the resumption until a vaccine for Covid-19 has been found would almost certainly lead to next season being cancelled too as that breakthrough could be as far as 18 months away, a drastic step which could bankrupt the entire sport and other related industries.
The Premier League will hold another meeting next Friday, which could culminate in a vote of the clubs on whether return, the day after the government are due to publish their lockdown exit strategy.
The clubs keenest to resume also argued that many of the legitimate health concerns expressed by their rivals, such as the danger of the virus being passed between players and safety concerns about mass crowds gathering outside closed stadiums are still likely to apply later in the year.
Pinning hope on finding a vaccine could lead to an 18-month suspension of league action
As a result they argued that if a way can be found to hold training and matches safely with government blessing they should do so as soon as possible, whilst stressing that the safety of players and staff was their priority.
The Premier League remain committed to finishing the campaign and briefed the clubs on their plans for ensure they can do so, including detailed return-to-training protocols and plans for the resumption of matches. The Premier League want to complete the existing fixture list as it stood before the shutdown, but with all games taking place at five or