Gary Neville: Loan reform over B teams to help EFL after pandemic

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As it stands under current proposals, Exeter will be overtaken by Plymouth into the League Two automatic promotion spots this season, and drop into the play-offs instead
Image: As it stands under current proposals, Exeter will be overtaken by Plymouth into the League Two automatic promotion spots this season, and drop into the play-offs instead

A reform of the loan system should be utilised instead of Premier League B teams to help the EFL post-coronavirus, Gary Neville told The Football Show.

Media reports on Wednesday claimed the subject of introducing B teams into the Football League pyramid had been raised in recent discussions between the EFL, FA and Premier League, although an EFL spokesperson said there was "no appetite whatsoever" to bring them into the professional landscape.

Neville, who is a part-owner of League Two side Salford City, added his opposition to the idea but said a reform of the loan system could provide a "half-way house" solution to help lower-league sides hit by financial problems due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"[B teams] have been resisted previously when those sort of ideas have been mentioned," he said. "I personally would still resist it, to maintain the integrity of having a pyramid with promotion and relegation, which has been a fantastic thing for this country for the last 100-odd years, and people enjoy it.

"Whether you're a supporter of Rochdale, Oldham, Manchester United or Liverpool, you're proud of your club and the fact it stands on its own two feet.

"Maybe there could be a happy medium, and I've heard it suggested at some of the League Two meetings a few weeks ago, where it would be very helpful if Premier League and Championship clubs with more money, maybe not at this time but generally, could loan players down to league One and League Two for no money.

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"Mainly the clubs in those two leagues would ordinarily charge for those players, so I think if they wanted to relieve some economic pain, you could potentially have - not partnerships - but a way in which Premier League and Championship clubs could soften the economic problems for those clubs in the lower divisions by not charging for players.

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"If you could allow four or five players into, let's say for example Salford, it would relieve hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. It'd be the same for Stevenage, Macclesfield, Oldham, every club in League One and League Two. That would be a half-way house between losing the integrity of the lower-league clubs and staying as it is at this moment in time.

"Maybe it could be a draft system or something whereby you can't have more than one player from a certain club. It could be worked in such a way to make it beneficial, maybe a draft system to spread it out."

Salary cap will be 'game-changer'

Neville added the discussions over a salary cap in the lower leagues of the EFL would mark a sea change in the finances of the divisions, with proposals sent to clubs in League One and League Two earlier this week over how they might be introduced.

"The biggest change we've seen in the lower leagues in many years is potentially coming in the next few months," he said. "Salary caps are going to be really severe, and are at a level which are well-below the salaries being paid at the moment.

"That'll be a game-changer for clubs and players at that level, who will be earning a lot less than they are at the moment. So loans from Premier League and Championship clubs to teams at that level will help teams become more competitive. I think it's going to be a massive reset, it'll be a very different game at League One and League Two level."

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