Gary Neville: How coronavirus could reset football, and why players should learn other skills

"Coronavirus in itself will change the face of football economically"

The Football Show - Gary Neville

Gary Neville feels the coronavirus crisis could reset football financially, and encourages players to learn different skills during this time.

Speaking on Thursday's The Football Show, the Sky Sports pundit says football players and agents will find it difficult over the next two years, suggesting 50 per cent of players in League One and League Two will be out of contract soon.

Neville also admitted he is becoming increasingly doubtful that football will return any time soon, and encouraged players to learn different skills and prepare themselves to gain another source of income for the short term.

'Coronavirus will change face of football'

A view of locked gates at a football stadium
Image: Football has not been played in England since early March

"Coronavirus in itself will change the face of football economically. Out of that, clubs want real action, and want to reset the game.

"This is not going to be pleasant for football players and agents over the next 18 months to two years. There's going to be a massive reset. There will be a thousand of players out of contract on June 30.

"It is a real reset for football. Many have people have wanted this for many, many years, and this virus is going to bring it. I don't think it has sunk in with many clubs or players yet, but I assure it will over the next two months.

"I honestly somehow want the miraculous thing to happen, that football returns in June and July. For football players and clubs, this is really, really bad on every level. It's bad on every level and in every industry. Masses of contracts won't get renewed based on the fact clubs can't repay them."

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'Learn another skill'

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Speaking on The Football Show, Neville feels the coronavirus crisis could reset football financially, and encourage players to learn different skills during this time.

"If I was a football player today, I'd be online learning, doing a degree, doing a B-tech, and trying to get a dual-skill. That's not panicking, that's not suggesting that their careers are over, it's just planning.

"The jobs in football will be less, the money will be less, and players will need to go and do a job next year or something next year out of football. That's a fact, it's going to happen.

"And they have to plan for that now. The smart ones will get their head around it quickly, and will go and do a different skill, look at the jobs they can do in the short-term to bring in money for their families.

"Football players now, learn another skill, think about another line of work, because it's going to be very difficult to secure contracts in the next 12 to 18 months."

'Very doubtful on football's return'

Neville and Jamie Redknapp admit they are becoming more and more pessimistic about the chances of football returning any time soon

"I am very, very doubtful as I sit here today, the more I hear and listen. An employer cannot put their employees at risk on health and safety grounds.

"There will be a liability issue for employers. As a Salford City owner, I have players who potentially have diabetes, players with asthma. Am I going to put them on a football field and risk their health and safety for a game of football? The answer is quite simply no. I am not sure how Premier League clubs are going to get around it.

"The testing thing is a nonsense. There is no way the Premier League can sell to the public that they're going to have access to tens of thousands of tests when the frontline workers can't get them."

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