Though both deny any such lists exist, the Colleges' Employers' Forum and the Association for Colleges are each backing six principals and six governors for the 13-strong board, which also includes a Scottish colleges representative.
The AFC has taken steps to bring in fresh blood and is understood to want to avoid "recycling" familiar faces. Former AFC chairman Michael Austin, principal of Accrington and Rossendale College, and Colin Flint, ex-Campaign Group member and principal of Solihull College, will not stand.
Principals listed are believed to include Ken Ruddiman of Sheffield College, Gordon Stokes of North Warwickshire and Hinckley, Chris Hughes of Gateshead, Helena Stockford of Mid-Warwickshire and Ian MacWhinnie of North East London.
The CEF's more predictable list is thought to include Michael Blagden of Southgate College, Gill Anslow of Guildford, David Mason of York, Keith Gardner of Oaklands, Richard Gorringe of Bedford and Graham Baskerville of Chippenham. Patricia Morgan Webb of Clarendon College and Mike Clegg of Preston are also possibilities for both slates. Board elections will be held next month.