Premier competitions men's clubs have been asked if they would be willing and able to play on well past the scheduled finish of their competitions to get in full seasons in 2020.
Northern NSW Football held a teleconference with NPL and second-division, Northern League One clubs on Monday evening to brief them on the ongoing suspension of the game, because of the coronavirus, and a potential return.
Football Federation Australia last week suspended all grassroots competitions until at least April 14 to help stop the spread of coronavirus. FFA finally did the same with the A-League on Tuesday, making it the last professional Australian competition to halt play.
Football's return date is not known but NNSWF has begun working with clubs to draw up guiding principles in re-establishing the competitions.
While most NNSW community competitions are not scheduled to start until after April 14, the 10-team, 18-round NPL was set to begin last weekend. The Northern League One and Herald Women's Premier League had played two rounds before the postponement. NNSWF was meeting with WPL clubs on Tuesday night.
NNSWF football operations manager Liam Bentley said the teleconference on Monday was a success.
"It went quite well," Bentley said. "I think everyone is quite understanding of it. It's a unique situation for everyone.
"People just want to play football, and play as much as they can, but it was quite a well-disciplined attitude from them.
"It wasn't that we need to get out there ASAP at all costs, it was that we really want to but we also know this is way bigger than community football, so I think everyone was just happy to be kept in the loop."
Bentley said the discussion and feedback, as well as a survey of what is most important to clubs, would help NNSWF rank priorities for the possible return. The questions covered aspects such as the importance of having finals and the need for preparation time before competitions resume. Clubs have the rest of the week to submit the survey.
He said NPL clubs were asked how late into the year they were prepared to play. The regular season was meant to finish on August 16, followed by a four-week, five-team finals series.
"If we got back on April 14, then we would probably extend it for a week or two, then use the catch-up rounds and a few extra midweek games and you are pretty much set," Bentley said. "But if it's later than that, then obviously we spoke about how late can we play the league.
"Can we play through September, October, November? Is that doable?
"If you are talking about NPL clubs, most have access to their grounds all year. It's a slightly different question when you get to Northern League One and the WPL."
He said NNSWF could allow more use of the synthetic pitches at Speers Point for matches, as well as shorten lower-grade games, to help get through the backlog of fixtures.
"We will have these principles that will say, here are our 10 priorities and as time eats away, if we don't start on April 14, then the bottom priorities will drop off the list," he said.
"And what the clubs' and Northern's main priorities are, we'll try to stick to."
As for the FFA Cup and NPL national finals, Bentley said: "We are in pretty constant communication with FFA about that.
"The NPL finals series, that will be difficult because it depends what NPLs go ahead and how we all finish it.
"The FFA Cup, if we get back in a month or two, can it just be pushed back? From memory, the first couple of FFA Cups had the final way back in November-December, so is it possible to do things there?
"We have only two rounds left of the [FFA Cup] northern conference, but in the southern conference we still have a lot of games to play."
As for potential compensation to clubs and players who have already paid registrations and competition entry fees, Bentley said NNSWF was "working through a refund policy for clubs to look at".
"We are pretty keen to get a season going for a whole bunch of reasons and financially is obviously one of them," he said.
"[Refunds] will absolutely depend on what we come back to. If we have a season that's not that much different, you would expect that to reflect in the fees. If we have a shortened season, we would take that into account.
"If we don't have any football, we'd have to look at what's already happened. Clubs have been training since the tail-end of last year and there will obviously be insurances that go along with that.
"If there's no season it's not a straight refund or move of fees onto next year."