Gary Neville has expressed his continued disappointment at the Premier League’s stance on the EFL amid claims as many as 60 Football League sides could go bust in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Football’s suspension has left many clubs in the lower leagues facing an uncertain future at present, with Neville among those calling for the Premier League to provide financial aid to those further down England’s footballing pyramid.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters this week reiterated the top flight’s desire to support the lower leagues but defended the division for not providing immediate short-term aid, and Neville – co-owner at League Two Salford City – has warned of impending financial ‘carnage’.
“From day one, I’ve said it will be July, August, September, October when the real pressure comes,” Neville told the Football Show on Sky Sports.
“The clubs have a loss at this moment in time from the games cancelled this season, League One clubs will vote to end the season and end up with the play-offs, similar to League Two, the Championship will probably go ahead and play.
“[Premier League chief executive] Richard Masters did an interview over the weekend with the BBC when he said he wouldn’t put in place a short-term funding package in the coming months because he was concentrating on the PL clubs.
“That’s what I’m seeing all the way over football. Everyone is looking down at their own feet and not seeing the carnage coming economically in the next 3-4 months.
“I wanted more from the Premier League from day one on this and I’m continually disappointed with their stance.”
Neville’s comments come after a stark warning from Huddersfield chairman Phil Hodginkson who believes as many 60 clubs could be ‘ceasing to trade in the next six to 12 months’ without support from elsewhere.
“The season should be completed when it’s safe to do so and there should be relegation and promotion,” Hodgkinson told the Yorkshire Post.
“We are on board with that, but there’s a much bigger issue that needs to be discussed in tandem with that. We are being asked to fund costs to cover the season, testing and other additional things, which is absolutely fine – I have no issue with that at all!
“But there are clubs further down the pyramid, who aren’t in the same situation as us, being asked to do the same thing, but there’s no solution in place to tell them whether that extra expenditure will take them further down the road to going out of business; that’s the reality of it.
“Let’s not pretend that football didn’t cause this problem, it did. Football has created the position we are in. What we have now is the opportunity, with this COVID-19 pandemic, is to get football back into a place where it’s run better.
“Football has caused this problem and football should fix it. If this isn’t solved, you could be looking at 40, 50, 60 clubs in the pyramid ceasing to trade within the next six to 12 months; that’s how big this problem is.”
While Neville didn’t quite think that the carnage would stretch as far as 60 clubs going out of business, he admitted that Hodgkinson’s comments are ‘alarming’, suggesting there is a ‘looming nightmare’ on the horizon for lower league clubs in the wake of the pandemic.
“What the Huddersfield owner says is alarming, I don’t think it will be 60 clubs personally, I don’t see evidence for that but he may be closer than that,” Neville added.
“But there will be clubs considering going into administration over the next 3-4 months basically to save themselves and the situation as how we deal with that. There is a looming nightmare economically for the EFL clubs.”