A compromise solution which would see the Premier Division extended to 12 teams next year, with the final places filled by promotion/relegation playoffs involving sides from both divisions, has been proposed in an attempt to ease tensions around the 2020 return.
Independent.ie has learned that the idea, which originated in informal talks between some First Division clubs and the FAI, has been circulated to other clubs for consideration.
It is a response to this morning's story that Premier Division clubs are prepared to write to the FAI to object to a comeback if there's a possibility that two top flight sides can be relegated at the end of the curtailed 18 game campaign.
The Plan B forming would involve automatic promotion for the First Division champions.
Crucially, the bottom two teams in the Premier Division and second and third in First Division would enter a four team playoff series with just one side losing out.
Effectively, the Premier teams would each get a chance to save themselves in ties with First Division sides (9th v 3rd & 10th v 2nd).
The losers of those two matches would meet to decide the final spot with the successful team taking the 12th slot.
This scenario would guarantee that a maximum of one Premier side would go down, and also ensures promotion for at least two First Division teams.
It would result in a 12 team Premier Division and 8 team First Division in 2021 and clubs would have to decide how to advance from there - discussions that would be tied in to broader talks around a longer term format.
The FAI wrote to clubs last night to say they would impose a decision on promotion/relegation if they couldn't reach agreement between themselves.
But a contingent of top flight outfits have been in talks about writing a letter to the FAI to say they would oppose any solution that opened up the prospect of two going down.
St Patrick's Athletic owner Garrett Kelleher has been vocal in those discussions which has raised questions about the Inchicore club's position.
But it's understood that the Saints hierarchy have held constructive talks with players about their contracts with a view to a return.