Coleraine manager Oran Kearney believes a 38-game Danske Bank Premiership season is possible in the next campaign if fans are allowed back into stadiums.
The 2019-2020 league season was suspended at the 31-game mark following the Covid-19 outbreak, but the picture is looking brighter now, with the NI Executive confirming yesterday that outdoor competitive games and sporting events can start again from tomorrow.
This covers both grassroots and professional competitive games and events and, although no spectators will be allowed, the Irish FA hope some fans will be able to attend the Irish Cup final on July 31.
Kearney’s men take on Ballymena United while Cliftonville face Glentoran in the semi-finals at Windsor Park on Monday, July 27.
The Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) have asked clubs for their views on next season, with a September start a possibility.
Clubs insists the domestic game is not sustainable without supporters and some have even argued a 50% capacity attendance would be required for a restart.
Kearney is hopeful fans will make a safe return to stadiums, allowing the Irish League to roar again.
“I’m trying to concentrate on what is in front of us, but my reading of it is that the majority of clubs acknowledge we need to put fans in there,” said the Bannsiders boss.
“The NI Executive will decide when fans can return. I don’t see a determination among clubs to play without supporters and some have expressed a desire to see 50% capacity.”
Kearney added: "Our ground holds 4,000 to 5,000 and we could probably cope with half capacity.
"We don't know when fans will be allowed into grounds and we have to see if any can watch the Irish Cup final.
"We've been trying to jump through hoops just to make sure we are returning to training safely. If it's a 12 team league, a 38 game season has worked and the Europa League play-off system can be exciting too, so it would make sense for those games to return as well."
Coleraine players resumed training last Saturday and their Covid-19 test results came back negative. Although in good physical condition, it's inevitable that all the semi-finalists will be lacking a little match sharpness.
"Our lads have come back in pretty much the same weight and they have been doing the physical work," added the former St Mirren chief. "Of course, you can only get the match sharpness through playing games. But it's the same for all four clubs, we are trying to squeeze the preparation in and we are in the same place."
Coleraine are still digesting the news that loan striker Curtis Allen may have to miss the cup games after his Glentoran contract was not extended beyond June 30, leaving the 32-year-old without a club for the remainder of the 2019/20 campaign.
"We are struggling to find someone who can give us a definitive answer on that," added Kearney.
Linfield, meanwhile, are understood to be organising a behind closed doors friendly against Bohemians at Windsor Park as well as a match against the same opponents in Dublin.
• The Irish FA have agreed that the transfer window will open from August 1 and close on October 5, in line with guidance from Uefa.