League Two clubs will meet with the EFL this morning to discuss restart dates for the 2020/21 season.
They will also discuss the possibility of bringing back reduced crowds, potentially as early as September, to allow clubs to launch season tickets and begin budgeting for a playing return.
Many fourth-tier clubs have said they will find it difficult to commence the season without some form of money coming through the turnstiles – and recent changes to the social distancing guidelines have raised hopes that a phased return of home fans could be possible from the opening weekend.
The EFL is under pressure to put some concrete plans in place and will also meet with League One clubs on Wednesday to gauge their opinions.
Wanderers will be well-placed to bring back socially distanced crowds, with a 28,000 capacity all-seater stadium boasting access from all sides, spacious internal concourses and large spaces to organise safe and structured queueing for incoming supporters.
The stadium has also been prepared for the possibility of staging Premier League games as a neutral venue, if needed, for the last few weeks.
As such, Bolton is likely to push for an early return. Clubs had previously been working on an unofficial date of September 12 for the opening round of fixtures but that could yet be brought back by a week despite clashing with an international weekend.
Southend chairman Ron Martin believes stadia could be operating on a 50—75 per cent capacity when the season kicks-off.
“This week the EFL board WILL meet with clubs to discuss a restart date and whether that might include some crowds,” he wrote in the Southend Echo.
“A third or half full stadiums has been suggested and the club will update our supporters, via the web site, when we know more.
“However if I were to hazard a guess I would think many clubs would favour mid-September with half crowds.
“This of course remains subject to Covid-19 subsiding further.”
Wanderers announced last week that they will carry a squad of just 11 professional players into next season but after sounding out a handful of last season’s squad before the lockdown they will now give new manager Ian Evatt – whose arrival from Barrow is imminent – a say in which players he pursues.
Setting a playing budget remains slightly problematic with the EFL looking to introduce salary capping measures, which are also up for discussion today.
Newport County chairman Gavin Foxhall believes the introduction of measures, which could limit clubs to paying £1.5million in salaries, is necessary to protect teams from going out of business.
"There has been dialogue going on for some time about a salary cap for squads. We think it is absolutely needed at our level," he told the South Wales Argus.
"A reset is needed generally in football, because the pandemic has highlighted that it's not sustainable at certain levels.
"A salary cap is potentially going to come in next season and we believe that will ensure clubs can be enjoyed by thousands of people for years to come.
"One chairman at another League Two club described it as almost protecting chairmen and owners from themselves, because everybody wants to gain promotion and gain that little bit of an advantage.
"If your manager comes and asks you for something then nine times out of ten then you want to support them as much as you can for obvious reasons.
"We've been no different but that potentially can make clubs in League Two, and likely in League One, unsustainable.
"It would also create more of a level playing field, because in our league there are probably clubs that range in budgets from £1million right up to £3million I suspect.
"A salary cap would be really welcome to have a measure in place as part of the EFL regulations so that we don't have another Bury."