IT was easy to overlook the final line in the last statement released by the SFA and SPFL Joint Response Group on Thursday evening.

After confirming the suspension of all football in Scotland would remain in place until April 30 and was likely to last far longer, dismissing the chances of the national team playing their Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Israel in June and vowing to do everything possible to ensure the safety of the public and survival of clubs, it almost seemed irrelevant.

Yet, did the governing bodies’ somewhat incongruous pledge “to begin the 2020/21 season as soon as is practicably possible later this year” give an indication of how they are intending to deal with the unprecedented crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic moving forward?

The inability to complete this season’s leagues and cups within the allocated timeframe and commence next season’s competitions as originally scheduled is irrelevant compared to the potential loss of life that the COVID-19 outbreak could cause in the coming weeks and months.

Nevertheless, supporters remain passionate about their clubs and have been preoccupied by the possible solutions to the complex problems the SFA and SPFL are facing as the reality of the dystopian nightmare into which the world has been plunged almost overnight to the game here have hit home.

With medical experts anticipating that coronavirus in the United Kingdom isn’t set to peak until the end of May or middle of June, and restrictions on public gatherings are likely to remain in place some time beyond that, there is no prospect of the final Ladbrokes Premiership or William Hill Scottish Cup fixtures being played any time soon.

So what is to be done? Should the current campaign to be declared null and void? Or could it be completed when play finally resumes later this year? Neither option is perfect, both are likely to anger fans. Opinion has been sharply divided.

My own view is that declaring Celtic Premiership champions, relegating Hearts to the Championship and promoting Dundee United to the top flight based on the placings on March 13 when the suspension was announced and doing the same in the lower leagues is the wisest course of action to take and would solve many issues.

That may be tough on second-placed Rangers. They could, theoretically, still win the Scottish title despite being 13 points behind their city rivals with nine games, including two Old Firm matches, still to play. Stewart Robertson, the Ibrox managing director, has warned about the impact it would have on “sporting integrity” if all the matches aren’t played.

It would, too, be harsh in the extreme on Hearts. They might, despite being four points adrift at the bottom of the table, be able to extricate themselves from their predicament. They have 24 points still to play for.

But these are exceptional times which call for extraordinary measures. Drawing parallels with similar situations in leagues around the world in years gone by is facile. Not for a century has the world faced an emergency of this scale or seriousness.

Drawing a line under the 2019/20 campaign could also help clubs to remain afloat.

They are set to ask their followers to renew their season tickets in the coming weeks. That money will, with no match day revenue coming in, be absolutely vital. It will stop many going out of business.

But how can they ask people to part with hundreds of pounds during a financial downturn that is threatening to leave millions jobless and cause years of untold hardship if there is no clarity about what exactly they are buying?

Would they be watching the end of this season? Would they be paying to see a diminished league next season? The confusion would drag on and on and on. It would be a convoluted mess. Who would sign up for that?

There is also the added complication that the sides after the summer will bear little or no resemblance to those which have taken to the field up until this point due to the departure of players and the arrival of new signings in the window. Where is the sporting integrity there?

Of course, declaring the season null and void would achieve the same objective as awarding titles now. It would also allow clubs to put this ordeal behind them and look to the future when play resumes. But that would alienate supporters, broadcasters and sponsors and could cost millions of pounds in compensation.

What fair-minded observer would begrudge Celtic, who have played almost 80 per cent of their league games, the title? They have been by far and away the most consistent and impressive performers. Could Rangers, whose loss of form this year has been spectacular, really topple them? It would take a collapse of Devon Loch proportions by the current runaway leaders to do so.

Hearts as well could, given how wretchedly they have fared since the Premiership started back in August, have no real complaints if they went down. There were hopes that Daniel Stendel would save them. But in their last game before the shutdown they lost to St Mirren away.

Deciding titles, promotions and relegations on current placings and doing away with the play-offs wouldn’t be fair and would cause widespread resentment. But there's no easy way out of this.