The Premier League should lead the way in the coronavirus crisis, says Gary Neville, with Jamie Carragher praising their decisions so far.

 

English football has been postponed until April 30 at the earliest as coronavirus continues to impact life around the world, although 2019/20 season will be extended indefinitely.

Sky Sports pundit Neville appeared on a special edition of The Debate, alongside Carragher, after the most recent announcement and believes the Premier League can lead the way with help for those who need it most.

Football brings hope to so many people, Neville said. I talked about football taking the lead and essentially, in moments like this, the government can lead.

In the last few days, people have welcomed the statements that have started to come out from government around support packages that will give reassurance to families and employees, to businesses and to all the people that need re-assurance at this time around the country.

They need re-assurance on health, but they also need economic re-assurance and I think football can lead the way.

The decision that has been made on Thursday by the Premier League, the EFL and other leagues to suspend footballers from training until April 5 and essentially saying football will not return before April 30 is a positive one. It primarily deals with the health concerns that people have at this moment in time in terms of protection of players, staff, coaches, non-playing staff and, as importantly, the fans that will attend games.

From a second point of view, it also allows football to assess the economic impact on its own game and what essentially, they’ve got to deal with here.

I’m not just talking about the Premier League, in fact, I’m more talking about the EFL clubs, the National League clubs and clubs beyond that, who essentially, I would imagine at this moment in time are doing some deep dive on their accounts, on their revenue losses, what costs they are going to have to incur and what responsibilities they have to their staff and their employees.

I do point towards the Premier League here, and I know people will say the FA is the governing body, there’s the PFA, and the LMA, but let’s be clear here, the Premier League is the power and force in English football.

I think there’s a massive opportunity in this next few weeks, when they’ve got the economic impact assessed across their own league but also the leagues throughout football, to not only reassure employees, staff and football fans that essentially there’s going to be a game there and clubs there to support at the end of this. But I think with the money that is awash in the Premier League there’s an opportunity for the Premier League to lead the way in terms of what they can do for the health service and the community.

They have to look at health first, the economic impact of their own business, their own clubs and their own staff next, but beyond that they do have to make a statement that goes out there to help communities and the people of those communities.

I’m sure the Premier League are in close liaison with the EFL, with the National League and other non-League associations around the country to ensure the game is propped up. The idea that football comes out of the coronavirus crisis where clubs have gone to the wall because of basically there not being a package in place from the Premier League, which has got all the money, is horrific.

I cannot think that’s not going to happen. I’m sure the Premier League are looking at that as we speak. We cannot see football clubs going to the wall because of this virus.

‘Footballers can prove they’re not in it for the money’

Alongside the Premier League, Neville has also called on football players to give help where they can and hopefully change the stereotype of a top-flight footballer.

He added: There is a massive opportunity for footballers here. I saw Borussia Monchengladbach announce they are willing to donate their wages to non-playing staff for the next few months.

There is a massive opportunity for football players to grab a victory from defeat in what is a terrible time for the whole country and give some reassurance to people that everybody in football are human beings and that they aren’t just in it for the money.

Football can act positively and there’s a big opportunity that exists, if, in the next few weeks, they can assess the economic impact on football itself.

Carra: Premier League showed great leadership

Carragher has been impressed with how the Premier League has handled its response to the coronavirus pandemic, including its commitment to finishing the current season.

I was really impressed with the Premier League because there’s the health side of the this and the economic side of this, he told The Debate. But they are also looking at the football aspect, and what they did in terms of saying the league will finish at some point, was great leadership.

That’s been the biggest question from a football point of view. There are lots of intricacies within that, but this decision has almost given closure the questions of different people and maybe people who are looking after themselves in terms of teams going up, going down, getting a Champions League place and even Liverpool for the title.

That’s been the question swirling around football and the decision puts the question to an end now and it’s just how it affects next season, but when that statement came out from the Premier League, I thought that was great leadership.

It was sending a message to everyone saying this is what’s happening, now we’ve got to find a way to make it work. It puts a lot of questions to bed and now we can start asking different ones about how we actually get to where need to get to and the timescale of this season finishing and how it affects next season.

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(c) Sky Sports 2020: Coronavirus: Premier League should lead the way in coronavirus crisis, says Gary Neville