OF ALL the questions to emerge over the last few days, the simplest is also the toughest to answer: what now?

This weekend saw a partial shutdown of the sporting schedule across Oxfordshire, reflecting a lack of clarity on how best to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

With it being suggested stricter controls may be brought in shortly, it would at least make the decision for clubs wondering about the best course of action.

Read also: Oxford United players told to stay in the country during coronavirus outbreak

In the absence of any clear instructions, some kept calm and carried on.

There was a slightly surreal atmosphere before and after Oxford City’s Vanarama National League South game at Hampton & Richmond.

With leagues above and below the National League bringing in blanket postponements, a sense of wonder about whether any of us should be there hung in the air.

Read also: Oxford City held by ten-man Hampton & Richmond Borough

City boss David Oldfield admitted it “just feels like different times” and that his players had sought guidance about what was right.

The obvious answer is no-one can be sure, but while there are doubts over public health it would seem better to overreact than underreact.

There are more important matters at stake.

“Football falls so far down the priorities in these times,” Oldfield went on, which is why the Premier League and EFL’s decision to bring in a three-week suspension appears sensible.

Such a measure was exactly what Oxford United head coach Karl Robinson suggested last Thursday.

“It makes a bit of sense and I think we could utilise the international break to keep people away from each other and slow the process down,” he said.

“It’s going to affect so many people in so many different ways and it’s something we have to show tremendous respect towards, because at the end of the day it’s people’s health.”

This hiatus gives some time to figure out the next steps, while minimising disruption.

If – and at this stage it is a colossal ‘if’ – the U’s are able to resume their Sky Bet League One campaign as scheduled on April 4 at Rochdale, it would make for a relatively minor restructuring of the run-in.

At most, clubs have ten games left to play, effectively meaning the season could be completed with only one week’s extension.

That way things would be wrapped up to give sufficient time to fit in play-offs largely as planned.

However, such a scenario is based on the presumption that the situation has improved.

While the last few days have shown how difficult it is to predict the future, at this stage it feels overly optimistic.

If new cases are still coming, which they surely will be, then it would seem reckless to send players and supporters potentially into harm’s way.

Should there be a further extension deeper into April and beyond, the headaches will really begin to start for the decision-makers.

Delaying Euro 2020 would create some breathing space to allow a much longer delay in domestic campaigns.

But with player contracts expiring at the end of June, what happens if games are still going on?

In that context, it might be tempting to just call time on the campaign as it is – either by just cancelling it altogether and starting again in August, or take the existing positions to determine promotion and relegation.

The latter might look appealing to some United fans – as they are third, it might mean Josh Ruffels’ late winner at Shrewsbury Town goes down as the goal which won them a ticket to the Championship.

But surely either option is a non-starter.

Amid a general atmosphere of uncertainty, the one thing which would be guaranteed is a flurry of legal action, which would rumble on for months and delay the start of next season.

There is simply too much money at stake.

Finishing the 2019/20 campaign should be the only option, however long that takes.

But while United have the income from player sales in January and a board who prop the club up, other teams are in a more perilous position.

It will not take long for many clubs all the way down the pyramid to come under severe financial pressure without the revenue generated from gate receipts.

You would hope emergency assistance from the top of the game is forthcoming – these are extraordinary times and they warrant extraordinary measures.

What now? The truth is no-one knows.