League One and League Two season return 'extremely unlikely', says Gary Neville

Salford City co-owner Neville says financial burden too much for League One and League Two clubs to complete season

The 2019/20 League One and League Two seasons may not restart due to the coronavirus pandemic
Image: The 2019/20 League One and League Two seasons may not restart due to the coronavirus pandemic

Gary Neville says he is 99 per cent sure there will be no more football played in League One and League Two in the 2019/20 season.

On Friday morning The Athletic reported that the EFL will tell clubs in League One and League Two there is no chance of playing any more games and ask them to vote on a method to decide promotion and relegation.

While the Bundesliga is back on May 16 and there are discussions around how the Premier League could resume amid the coronavirus pandemic, Neville, a co-owner of League Two side Salford City, told The Football Show that financially a restart at League One and League Two levels is just not feasible.

"I said a few weeks ago I think it's extremely unlikely League One and League Two will play football," said Neville. "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.

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Speaking on The Football Show, Gary Neville says it is 'extremely unlikely' League One and League Two will resume their seasons without significant funding from 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.

"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.

"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.

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"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."

Weighted points-per-game to decide promotion, relegation?

The report in The Athletic also suggested promotion and relegation from League One and League Two could be decided with a weighted points-per-game method, where results home and away are rewarded differently.

This would be controversial as it would see Cheltenham Town leapfrog Exeter City to be promoted from League Two - with the fourth-placed side in both League One and League Two promoted in the absence of the Play-Offs.

"There are going to be some very unhappy people in the next few weeks if the points-per-game method is used," said Neville.

"There will be some pain at the top but that pain will multiply for teams at the bottom if that starts to happen, which I suspect it will.

"At the bottom of League Two, if relegation happens, Stevenage are obviously well adrift at the bottom. You will have some majorly unhappy individuals in these next few weeks.

"We're in a position at Salford where we were never going to go down, never going to go up this season. So we're actually sat there in a neutral position where if we could return to football - our players would like to return to football, we would like to return to football safely - but the league can't afford it and we're not sure how to deliver it.

"So it's probably not going to happen. In fact I'd say I'm 99 per cent sure it's not going to happen."

Analysis: Where could L1 and L2 teams finish?

Sky Sports data editor Adam Smith...

Coventry City's Jordan Shipley (right) and Coventry City Captain Michael Rose celebrates at end after 2-1 win over Rochdale during the Sky Bet League One match at St Andrews Trillion Trophy Stadium, Birmingham. 16 November 2019
Image: Coventry City are on course to win Sky Bet League One

'It's been reported football may be over in 2019/20 for League One and League Two, but with promotion and relegation still to be decided, where could each team finish?

'The Athletic claim EFL and clubs will determine the best method to decide promotion and relegation, with a weighted points-per-game method one option, but how high - or low - could each team finish if the season was completed?

'Data guru Ben Mayhew has simulated every possible result from the remaining games and calculated each club's range of possible final league positions - in addition to probabilities for each standing.

'The results reveal it will not be easy to decide who goes up and who goes down...'

Read more from Adam Smith on how the premature conclusion of the League One and League Two campaigns could affect your club

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