Somerset's chief executive has rejected the portrayal of his club as reluctant to return to action, insisting that "no county wants to play cricket this year more". Gordon Hollins, who started his job at Taunton earlier this year, said he is keen to see the team playing again but will not be rushed into it before appropriate safeguarding - both health and financial - is complete.

While county cricket looks highly likely to return at the start of August, the formats to be played remain unclear. The Professional Game Group (PGG), which effectively runs the domestic game, has proposed playing a regional-based first-class competition at first, with a T20 Blast season to follow a few weeks later.

But some teams feel the logistical and financial challenges of playing four-day cricket could make the 50-over game a more pragmatic solution. In particular, there are concerns about the availability and safety of the hotels and restaurants that would be required by their players for overnight stays. One county also appears reluctant to play 50-over cricket.

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Key to counties committing to taking their staff off furlough (16 of the 18 are currently furloughed) will be a confirmation of funding from the ECB. To date, the ECB has provided all the funding that would have been expected from them until the end of July. The ECB board met on Friday with an expectation of further funding confirmation expected in the coming days. Until that announcement comes, however, some counties are reluctant to commit themselves to costs they could struggle to afford. Gloucestershire are also understood to be taking a cautious approach to a return.

But while they may be unwilling to confirm plans at this stage, it does not mean they should be perceived as unwilling to play, according to Hollins. Somerset, like several other clubs, are expected to take their players off furlough at the start of July with a view to an August resumption.

"No county wants to play cricket this year more than Somerset," Hollins said. "We have a duty to act responsibly and ensure the wellbeing of all those involved, while being confident that decisions made now support the short and long-term interests of the club.

"Some good work is being done by all county clubs and the ECB on the structure of this season and we are fully committed to supporting that work and finding an optimal solution for all counties to ensure that cricket successfully navigates its way through this unprecedented crisis."

Hollins' comments may pour balm on what was becoming an increasingly fractious disagreement. With some clubs desperate to play to satisfy sponsors, members and players, others are much more cautious, which has caused great frustration. A recent chief executives meeting became unusually heated, with those expressing reluctance - and Northants are probably the most reluctant - told they had accepted ECB money, government money (in the form of the furlough agreement) and, in many cases, membership money. As a consequence, it was suggested their role as cricket clubs was to return to action if deemed appropriate by the relevant health authorities.

In reply, it is understood those clubs expressed more preference towards playing 50-over cricket and required further assurances over both health and financial arrangements.

As a result, there has been talk of the bulk of the clubs moving on without the small number of reluctant ones and playing a competition that excludes them. This could be achieved by a two-thirds majority vote.

There has also, for the first time in many years, been talk of a couple of clubs being permanently excluded in a move that would see the number of first-class teams cut. As one chief executive is understood to have put it in the meeting, "If you don't play us this year, we may not want to play you next year."

While the chances of a formal first-class competition may have diminished somewhat, several clubs are insisting they will play first-class games come what may - possibly on a friendly basis or in standalone competitions.

Those counties also retain hopes of welcoming in spectators. With pub beer gardens (and hotels) likely to re-open on July 4 and most cricket spectators forced to watch outside anyway, several counties hope they could arrange some socially distanced arrangements to recoup at least some ticket revenue from the start of August. They also remain hopeful that, in September, they may be able to welcome larger crowds for Blast games.

Somerset's position among the more cautious counties is something of a surprise. But it may be relevant the club parted ways with their previous chief executive midway through last season after it became apparent their financial position was not as healthy as had previously been thought. A combination of ground redevelopment costs (not least new floodlights) and a high salary base for the players has created a tough environment for a new chief executive dealing with a pandemic. Other clubs are already circling round their out of contract players.

It should be noted that neither the drive to resume county cricket or the threat to move on without some counties is coming from the ECB executive. Instead, it is the PGG, which includes Surrey's Richard Gould, Durham's Tim Bostock and Sussex's Rob Andrew, who have proposed the fixture list and are attempting to assure clubs of the importance of returning to action.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo