Gary Neville urges EPL to think about July restart, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Gary Neville urges EPL to think about July restart

Delaying it further would be a safer option, as clubs agree to stick to playing in their own stadia

The British government may have given the go-ahead for elite sports to resume from June 1, but former Manchester United defender Gary Neville believes a July restart is more feasible for the English Premier League.

Step two of the government's 50-page road map to end the coronavirus lockdown announced on Monday includes "permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact".

Events will be allowed to take place only if sufficient progress is made in limiting the spread of the virus between now and then.

Neville told Sky Sports' The Football Show yesterday: "If you're a Premier League owner, I don't think anyone would be sticking their hand up, saying 'let's get back playing next week'.

"I think they need to think about delaying for a few weeks or maybe even a month or two.

"Instead of a June restart, maybe more about a July start. It just feels like the pressure is coming on top a little bit...

" I know Uefa have set a deadline but I think there's a lot to think about, it's really complex."

While Uefa had set a deadline of May 25 for leagues to outline their plans to finish the season, the British media reported that the EPL, which had been suspended since March 13, could be handed an extension.

Delaying it would seem a better option, especially since clubs are hoping they can avoid having to play the remainder of the season at neutral grounds.

EPL chief executive Richard Masters said after a meeting of all 20 clubs on Monday that the consensus is for them to continue with their home-and-away format.

Masters, who reiterated that safety comes first, also revealed that for the first time, clubs discussed what might happen if the season could not be completed - although they continue to believe it can be finished.

Last week, clubs were told any return to complete the season would have to be with games played behind closed doors and at neutral venues - to limit the risk of supporters turning up outside grounds.

But that idea had been rejected by clubs facing the threat of relegation, such as Watford and Brighton & Hove Albion, who expressed concerns about the fairness of playing games at neutral venues.

Discussions continue between the league and the government about the details of how a resumed season would be carried out. Masters said the clubs hope they can still find a way to play games and tell fans to avoid gathering outside stadia and stay at home.

The clubs did agree to allow players whose contracts run out at the end of June to extend their deals until the end of the season.

What is also certain is that clubs face having to pay a huge refund to broadcasters even if they manage to complete the season behind closed doors.

Masters said: "Whatever happens, there's going to be significant loss of revenue for clubs. That is inevitable."


Broadcasters would be reimbursed for matches not being played as scheduled and the lack of atmosphere in empty stadiums is also a factor. The BBC reported the bill facing the English top flight could be as high as £340 million (S$520.9m).

The rebate to broadcasters would surge to about £760m if the season cannot be completed. Masters previously warned of a £1 billion loss once the absence of gate takings is taken into account. - REUTERS, AFP