WHEN EFL chairman Rick Parry wrote an open letter to clubs in April he had suggested today – May 16 – as the earliest that players could have returned to the training ground in preparation for League One’s resumption.

Wanderers made provisional plans for that being the case but, in truth, probably knew full well they were not going to be put to the test.

In fact, for the vast majority of the 67 days since they last ran out at Burton Albion for a competitive game, there has been very little about the club’s behaviour which suggested that football was coming back any time soon.

Virtually all non-playing staff were placed on furlough, the squad left at home to watch and wait with the rest of us after agreeing a deal to defer part of their wages to help with the overall running costs of the club.

There has been no agenda-pushing in the media, little indication given on Football Ventures’ thoughts about the future of League One in general, other than a willingness to bide by what the EFL decide.

The contrast between Wanderers’ last ownership and its current one could hardly be starker – and though a survey from the Supporters’ Trust illustrated quite unequivocally that fans are keen to hear more about FV’s ‘Grand Plan’ for the club, their tactfulness in such delicate times has been appreciated.

They are helped – if that is the correct word – by the fact relegation is a foregone conclusion.

Were Bolton fighting at the top of the division like Coventry City, or challenging for the play-offs like Peterborough or Oxford, there may be more of an onus on the club to garner support among its peers.

It is hardly a great surprise that establishing a course of events in League One has become an exercise in self-interest. One can only imagine what a palaver Friday morning’s conference call became. But given a weekend of contemplation, we can only hope that a few more clubs can find a common thread of thought – whether that is to continue, or to hibernate.

It is impossible to come out of this without someone’s nose being put out of joint, yet the longer this is argued, the narrower the choices become.

For while you may argue that the cost of stopping the season is comparable with continuing fixtures and paying for COVID-19 tests – the one date that doesn’t shift it June 30, when player contracts expire.

Bolton have 14 professional contracts that expire this summer and even if some compromise is shown on the players’ behalf, there is practically no chance they can fulfil 10 games inside 56-days if they are only to return to Lostock on May 25 – Parry’s revised date. Clubs at the top can talk about competition integrity all that they but it went out of the window when Wanderers were allowed to start this season in administration with half a dozen senior players – a scenario you might see repeated if clubs are forced to continue.

FV won’t say it – but ending the season now benefits Bolton. It gives them a chance to rebuild in League Two at a time when finances should be more realistic and may even ge governed by salary caps.

Then we can really put to the test this new recruitment policy and team people want to know about.

Professional contracts for Callum King-Harmes, Matt Alexander, Adam Senior and Sonny Graham provided some real positive football news for the first time in ages. And if managed right, it doesn’t have to be the last time this summer.

There are clearly hurdles to be negotiated. It may be some time before fans are able to watch their club in person but I’m willing to bet they will continue to back the club in number whenever that time comes.

It has been a downright awful year in the history of this football club, and obviously a dark chapter for human existence as a whole.

But if the bickering can stop on Monday morning and clear heads discuss a proper way forward, football can start rebuilding towards the new norm.

Let the next date Parry sets be achievable and give us all something to get excited about again.