Relegation threatened clubs could scupper the Premier League’s Project Restart by claiming a number of their players have tested positive for the coronavirus.
That would send the club into lockdown for at least 14 days, meaning they wouldn’t be able to fulfil their fixtures during that period.
And with the season set to be condensed into a short period to complete the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign, it would virtually consign the campaign to the scrapheap.
“With so much money at stake if you are relegated there’s every chance that one of the struggling clubs could produce a sicknote," one leading Premier League executive revealed.
“There’s already a general fear that players can contract Covid-19 which has already happened in Germany.
“And it would prove convenient for that to happen at a club fearful of dropping into the Championship. This scenario would be a nightmare for the Premier League.”
Players are already split on the idea of resuming the season in the middle of next month – and not just because of the fear of contracting the virus and passing it on to family members.
It can also be revealed that some players are desperate to continue because their lucrative bonuses are under threat if the season is closed down.
A Premier League club insider said: “To the lower paid players in the Premier League the bonuses can make a huge difference to their earnings.
“For instance many players are on big bonuses for helping their club stay in the Premier League and they don’t want to miss out.”
Many managers are also tied into to the bonus system and would be hit financially if the season is canned.
It all adds to the problems confronting Project Restart just hours before the next crunch meeting involving the clubs.
A final decision on how the current campaign is concluded will be made a week tomorrow.