League One and League Two ‘extremely unlikely’ to return, says Neville

The former Manchester United defender believes it is not financially feasible for clubs in the two divisions to play again in 2019-20

Gary Neville believes that League One and League Two will be forced to cancel the remainder of their seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As the Premier League and Championship eye a return to the pitch, the third and fourth tier of English football appear less likely to play again in 2019-20 due to the cost of putting on matches without fans. 

The Bundesliga has jumped to the front of the queue in Europe with the German top-flight planning a May 16 return date, but Neville has said that emulating the Bundesliga will be cost-prohibitive for League One and League Two.

“I said a few weeks ago I think it’s extremely unlikely League One and League Two will play football,” Neville said on Sky Sports’ “The Football Show”.

“We know the Bundesliga and the measures they’re putting in place to allow football to happen. It’s going to cost a lot of money. And the same with the Premier League.

“We’re talking millions of pounds to invest in what would be health and safety protocols, neutral venues, all the logistics, the hotel costs of keeping club people and players in as safe environments as possible will be huge costs to the Bundesliga and the Premier League.

“And League One and League Two can’t fund that. The clubs won’t fund that.”

Neville, who is part-owner of League Two side Salford City, said the number of players on short-term contracts will also be a major hurdle for the two leagues to overcome.

“You’ve obviously got added complexities that 50 per cent of players in League One and League Two are out of contract in two months and ultimately clubs don’t want to pay them beyond those contracts so there will be no extensions available,” Neville continued.

“I think also there’s just a lack of willingness at League One and League Two levels to take the risk and go through all the economic risks. There [will be] no fans in stadiums, you’d have to pay players appearance money and bonus money – and the clubs haven’t got the money.

“The only way in which football could happen in League One and League Two is if our friends in the Premier League were able to fund football for League One and League Two but I’m not sure at this moment in time they’ve got their own ship in order, so they’re not going to look after League One and League Two and League Two.”