sport news MARTIN SAMUEL: The battle lines have been drawn between the Premier League's ...

It was, in many ways, always going to end like this. A battle between top and bottom, the haves and have-nots; those who view concluding the season in terms of its financial advantage, those who see it as an existential threat.

At Friday's Premier League meeting the differences were made very clear. Elite clubs are pressing for resumption because they have contracts that deliver based on success, on trophies, on European qualification, on a top-four finish. That is understandable.

Yet, equally, others fear a fickle relegation. A season that starts, just as suddenly stops, and is then decided by the most arbitrary means. Points per game.

Friday's Premier League meeting saw battle lines drawn between the top and bottom clubs

Friday's Premier League meeting saw battle lines drawn between the top and bottom clubs

The big six want the season to resume in a bid to fulfil contractual obligations and earn money

The big six want the season to resume in a bid to fulfil contractual obligations and earn money

But what games? There are three teams — West Ham, Watford and Bournemouth — currently tied on 27 points from 29 matches. 

Say the campaign restarted as the country emerged from lockdown, there was a second coronavirus spike or a swathe of positive tests in football, and it was shut down again. What would happen then?

Watford's next three games are Leicester, Burnley and Southampton. Bournemouth play Crystal Palace, Wolves and Newcastle. West Ham face Wolves, Tottenham and Chelsea. 

There are genuine concerns from teams at the bottom that they could face the ultimate penalty if the league hits pause a second time, just at the moment a run of difficult fixtures has concluded, with more winnable games unresolved.

The situation at the bottom, however, is far from clear cut with many questions posed

The situation at the bottom, however, is far from clear cut with many questions posed

Aston Villa next play Chelsea, Wolves and Liverpool, Brighton's first two games back are Arsenal and

It is hardly surprising that clubs are reluctant to make a call on the season's recommencement without a clearer plan on how it ends. Integrity is about who loses, as much as who wins.

'No club should benefit from failure, and no club should be punished because they are on the brink of success,' said Jamie Carragher last week. 

He spoke of relegation-threatened clubs being among the most vocal in resisting football's return. And that may be true, but it does not mean those concerns are invalid. 

Look at Stoke, at , at Charlton, at Bolton — relegation has the potential to ruin. The downside of a fall into the Championship can be far greater than the brief pain of being denied a fight for a Champions League spot.

Nobody is arguing against Liverpool's first title of the Premier League era. It will either be awarded with an asterisk — unsatisfactory, but unavoidable — or it will be won in the arena, albeit to eerie silence. The integrity of the competition can be maintained at the very top. Where it will struggle is the bottom, unless 38 games are played.

Aston Villa's next games make it hardly surprising bottom clubs are reluctant to resume

Aston Villa's next games make it hardly surprising bottom clubs are reluctant to resume

Brighton are against playing at a neutral venue and don't want to be denied home advantage

Brighton are against playing at a neutral venue and don't want to be denied home advantage

sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart

read more from dailymail.....

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Follow us on social media networks

PREV 'Business 101': Khawaja launches broadside at Cricket Australia mogaznewsen
NEXT Kerr's season over but could still be a winner as WSL season cut short mogaznewsen