Gary Neville has called on Premier League clubs to ‘solve the crisis in lower leagues’ as the English footballing pyramid feels the financial squeeze of the coronavirus crisis.
Whilst talks over a Premier League return behind-closed-doors continues, League Two clubs have already voted to end the current season, whilst League One is set to be decided on unweighted points-per-game, with only the Play-offs taking place.
The financial implications of football’s suspension has led to increased fears that several lower league clubs could enter administration, with former Chair of the Commons Select Committee, Damian Collins MP, insisting an urgent government bailout is required to save the futures of League One and Two sides.
However, Gary Neville – a co-owner of League Two Salford City – believes assistance to the Football League should come from the riches of the Premier League and has echoed the sentiments that lower league sides face a bleak future without financial aid.
“I said some months ago that unless some funds are put in place then we would start to see severe things happen at some clubs,” Neville said on Sky Sports The Football Show.
“My understanding is that clubs will be ok up until June 30. The real problem will come where clubs rely on season-ticket sales for next season. The real issue will come in July, August and September if this coronavirus crisis persists. The clubs will really suffer at his point. I don’t believe it is a crisis for today, I believe it will come in a few months rather than a few weeks.”
Neville emphasised his view that it is the Premier League’s ‘duty’ – rather than the government – to strike a deal to help clubs in need, believing ‘football can sort itself out’ at a time of potential financial crisis.
“I’ve always called on the Premier League to solve the crisis in lower leagues. l wouldn’t call on the government to do that. I don’t believe it’s the government’s responsibility to save football clubs. The government has far more pressing industries to focus on where millions of jobs are at risk.
“But if the Premier League aren’t going to perform and do what I believe is their duty, and the government is happy to do some type of loan-based system, then I would support it in a hesitant manner. If that is the only solution l would take it because l don’t want to see clubs going bust.
“I do believe the Premier League has the ability to do this. Football can sort itself out.”