Gary Neville losing confidence that the football season will resume
Gary Neville has admitted he is no longer convinced the current football season will restart as the coronavirus pandemic continues to grip countries around the world.
Premier League clubs are meeting again on Friday to try and agree on a way to end this season.
The League’s preferred option remains to finish the remaining 92 games as and when it is safe to do so but, as Sky Sports News reported earlier this week, an increasing number of clubs want a cut-off date of June 30 for the campaign to be concluded so they can start forward planning.
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Yet with lockdown extended for a further three weeks at least and the game’s continuing challenges around player contracts, as well as attempting to play behind closed doors, Neville has admitted concerns over a conclusion.
“Where we were five or six weeks ago when we weren’t doing shows virtually, I was 99 per cent confident about football being completed this season and I was confident about all competitions, whether it be behind closed doors or in other circumstances,” he told The Football Show on Friday.
“That’s having been part of the League Two owners’ discussions over the last few weeks, seeing the complexities and seeing the challenges that the PFA have got with contracts.
“Also, seeing the issues of starting behind closed doors and then a player gets it again and they have to go into quarantine again and the challenges that exist with fans travelling to potentially Istanbul. Our fans are so loyal they will try and get there somehow.
“The reality of it is I am a lot less confident of football finishing [the season] than I was five or six weeks ago, now we are getting to the crux of the matter and these types of decisions are having to be made.”
Neville unhappy with ‘abyss of information’
Joining Neville on The Football Show, fellow Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher said hard decisions would need to be taken soon – and warned that “something will have to give'” when a resumption is agreed.
“There have been a lot of ‘semi-decisions’ to buy time but I think very soon we’ll have to make decisions on this season and next season,” said Carragher.
“Something’s got to give at some stage – maybe a competition this season or next has to be taken out of the calendar to allow space because next season may be a tighter timeframe. Right now, no one has given up anything but eventually we’ll need to make decisions and someone will lose out on something.”
A concurring Neville added: “I actually get the feeling (the authorities) are stuck; everyone is fending for their own rights. Where are the club owners and CEOs? There’s an abyss of information – we’re just speculating all the time.
“Football has gone quiet. It would be nice to hear them communicate about the challenges taking place. Even if you don’t know the outcomes, you have to communicate.”
Carra backs CL ‘tournament’ idea
UEFA is considering proposals which would see the Champions League final being played on August 29, three months later than originally scheduled.
The Champions League final was due to take place at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul on May 30 but, under one of the new proposals which UEFA will discuss next week, the final would be moved to Saturday, August 29 at the same venue.
Carragher has backed the idea of an alternative tournament format in August to complete European competition.
“I said something will probably have to give and I’ve said previously that cup competitions would be more at risk than leagues because when leagues finish obviously impacts on next season,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s any way you can have Champions League games in the middle of leagues starting up in Europe because games will be so spaced together to try and get the season done – over three or four weeks – that it feels like European competition will have to have its own situation.
“With the season moving on a month or two, everything will get pushed back, so when they talk about August, that wouldn’t be the start of next season. August would instead feel like the summer in football terms or the end of the season when you might have a tournament. I think that would be a good idea.
“But the longer this goes on and things get pushed back, something has to give. The Euros is next summer we know so you almost have to work back from that.
“Is it the FA Cup or Carabao Cup next season that gets pushed out, and you move the Champions League (conclusion) to August and start next season in September or October? I think the Champions League will be really difficult to fit in in a normal format so a tournament could work really well.”
Why is June 30 being touted as a Premier League ‘cut-off’ date?
Ahead of Friday’s Premier League meeting, Sky Sports News revealed that an increasing number of clubs want a cut-off date of June 30 for the season to be finished by.
According to Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol: ‘The League’s preferred option remains to finish the remaining 92 games as and when it is safe to do so’, but ‘an increasing number of clubs fear their out-of-contract and loan players will be able to walk away when they become free agents at the end of June. This would weaken some squads and affect the integrity of the competition with some clubs competing for European places and some fighting to avoid relegation.’
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