Premier League clubs have been warned by the FA that the 2019/20 season must be decided on sporting merit – ruling out the possibility of the season being declared null and void.
Whichever way Premier League clubs vote on how to proceed, the future must include promotion and relegation, clubs were told.
This means that runaway league leaders Liverpool will almost certainly claim their first top tier title in 30 years.
But it remains unknown whether they will be able to play out their remaining fixtures or if the season will be curtailed.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are just six points away from securing the trophy but the three relegation positions are still undecided, with the 20 clubs divided over plans to resume the season – known as Project Restart.
The government has said elite sport could resume behind closed doors as early as June if further progress is made in limiting the spread of coronavirus.
The idea of the season being null-and-voided was officially ruled out by an FA intervention at a teleconference meeting of Premier League executives on Monday.
Sky News understands they were told in a message by FA Chairman Greg Clarke that the season must be decided by sporting merit, whether that is by using a points-per-game formula based on past matches, or by completing the outstanding fixtures.
The removal of the possibility of the season being declared null and void will be welcomed by Leeds, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham, the teams at the top of the Championship.
They had feared that the bottom six Premier League clubs could refuse to play out the remaining fixtures unless the threat of relegation was removed.
Project Restart is the code name given to the Premier League’s plan to resume games by 12 June at the earliest, and in stadiums with no fans, pending government approval.
The government will also be asked to reconsider its requirement for games to be held in neutral grounds after clubs expressed concern that this removal of “home advantage” undermines the integrity of the competition.
Sky News understands the government is open-minded about the possibility of playing games home and away, but the decision hinges on advice given by officials, including the Sports Grounds Safety Authority.
Clubs were told last month that the use of eight to 10 neutral venues was the only way the campaign could be finished in a way which satisfies the government and emergency services amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mark Roberts, the head of national football policing, said those clubs quibbling about the conditions in which the season could be finished should “get a grip”.
A vote on Project Restart is likely to be delayed until next week at the earliest as talks between the 20 clubs continue.