A pivotal vote on whether to introduce new financial controls designed to dampen rampant wage inflation in the Premier League is balanced on a knife-edge before Thursday's meeting of all 20 clubs.
The proposals have been worked up at successive meetings of the 20 Premier League clubs and will now be put to a final vote, requiring a two-thirds majority to pass into the rulebook.
Since the Premier League's new £3bn domestic TV deal was announced, clubs have been looking for ways to ensure the uplift does not translate directly into increased wages.
There are two proposals on the table, one based on Uefa's Financial Fair Play break-even rules and the other designed to curb wage inflation.
The first has been strongly supported by the so-called "gang of four" clubs – Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur – who wrote to the Premier League before the December meeting to advocate a hardline interpretation.
The second, originally proposed by the Sunderland owner, Ellis Short, has the backing of clubs including West Ham and Stoke City.
The vote is likely to be close but there appears to be just enough support for both ideas that they will be added to the Premier League rulebook.
Several amendments have been made to the ideas since they were first proposed, with the FFP scheme likely to be more lenient than Uefa's version in terms of the permitted level of losses over three seasons that can be covered by a benefactor.
Under Uefa's rules losses are limited to €45m (£39m) over three seasons – a figure that decreases further with each rolling three-year period. But the Premier League is likely to allow clubs far more leeway, setting the figure at around £100m over three years.
The ceiling at which the wage curbs, which will limit total increases in the salary bill to 10% per season, would come in has also been raised from £40m to £52m.
Another version of the rule on the table would allow total wage bills to rise by a fixed amount over the next three seasons – £4m in the first, £8m in the second and £12m in the third. Both versions of the wage curb rule will be further debated and one of them put to the vote.
Under both, clubs will also be permitted to spend all the money they earn from commercial activities on wages. In Manchester United's case, their total commercial income totalled £117.6m last year and their wage bill was £160m. Their sponsorship income is expected to rise further when their new deal with Chevrolet kicks in next season.
Both rules will give newly promoted clubs and those with smaller stadiums the ability to invest in order to climb the table.
Chelsea, now comfortable with the compromise on offer, are expected to back both motions. The chief executive, Ron Gourlay, said it would be "illogical" not to do so, having agreed to comply with Uefa's more stringent proposals.
"We have geared ourselves up for the financial regulatory structure now in place in Europe and would like to think that we could develop an appropriate set of financial stability regulations to apply to all Premier League clubs," he said. "Everyone at the club is working hard to comply with the rules and we will participate positively in the Premier League's forthcoming meetings."
Manchester United's chief executive, David Gill, said last month that it was likely that either both motions would be passed or neither, given the level of horse trading among the 20 clubs.
Those clubs opposing the idea have different reasons for doing so. Fulham want their owner, Mohamed Al Fayed, who recently converted his loans to equity to leave the club debt-free, to be able to continue to pour money into the club. West Bromwich Albion, on the other hand, believe that they are able to continue to run the club sustainably without the need for new regulation and that the new rules will harm their competitive advantage.